Chinese scientists have successfully preserved images of wall paintings from ancient caves in DNA

(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese researchers have successfully preserved ancient cave wall paintings in DNA and restored them from a heavily damaged specimen that was stored at 70 degrees Celsius for seventy days.

What do DNA and USB have in common? You will most likely say nothing. The genetic information of an organism is stored in DNA, the molecule that carries this information.

Known as the double helix, DNA is made up of two linked strands that wind around each other like a spiral staircase. So what does this have to do with storing information?

It turns out that a DNA molecule can be artificially modified into a durable, miniature “digital museum” that encodes biological information, the researchers found.

Chinese scientists successfully encoded ten digital images from the Dunhuang caves into 210,000 strands of DNA using nucleotide sequences in a 6.8MB zip file and were able to accurately reconstruct them from a severely damaged sample that was stored at 70 degrees Celsius for 70 days.

The Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwest China’s Dunhuang City, has about 45,000 square meters of wall paintings.

High density, durability and low maintenance make DNA data storage a rapidly evolving technology. Despite this, in-vitro DNA coding errors still represent a major technical problem.

Researchers led by Yuan Yingjin of Tianjin University have developed a de novo error-prone DNA strand assembly algorithm that allows mural conservators to accurately extract information from DNA solutions stored at 9.4 degrees Celsius for more than 20,000 years without any protection.

Their study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that 7.8 percent thread redundancy is sufficient for reliable data recovery when the decoder receives more than 95 percent of the threads.

The National Science Review published the results of Yuan’s research on a yeast artificial chromosome encoding two photographs and a video clip in 2021 DNA.

According to the researchers, thanks to the latest breakthrough, it can be used to protect and pass on cultural heritage to future generations.


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