British researchers use DNA to archive massive amounts of data

British researchers use DNA to archive massive amounts of dataBritish researchers recently published results of a study showing that DNA can be used to archive massive amounts of data.

The researchers encoded a clip of Martin Luther King's speech from 1963, a JPEG photo, a PDF of the famous Crick & Watson paper describing the structure of DNA, a text file containing Shakespeare's sonnets plus a file regarding the new encoding system itself, on to DNA.

It was in total 738kb of data that the researchers encoded onto DNA. They broke the long string of information into several overlapping short sequences, and tagged each of them with its position in the overall sequence. Their American teammates then synthesized the short pieces of DNA to match the sequences, and shipped the data overseas.

Finally, the British researchers sequenced and reconstructed the digital files with an absolute accuracy.

The researchers concluded that just one gram of DNA is capable of holding the equivalent of two petabytes of data.

DNA storage is currently very expensive. But the researchers believe that ongoing innovations in the field would drag prices down and make their method easily affordable within a decade.

The report published in the most recent online edition of Nature.