One gram of DNA is enough to record several billion gigabytes of information

(ORDO NEWS) — DNA is a multifunctional biomolecule with many natural roles. Previously, scientists were able to find a number of technical applications for it: for example, as a data warehouse.

Now they have managed to increase the capacity and increase the reliability of the “DNA flash drive” by introducing seven additional nucleotide letters into it.

Imagine DNA that has music, images, and other media files instead of human genes or, say, bacteria. Now such devices are becoming a reality.

The technology of “DNA flash drives” has been around for several years, but in a new article in Nano Letters , scientists have changed the chemical composition of this molecule and improved its “reading” (sequencing) technologies. Thanks to this, they created a more capacious and stable data storage.

The era of digital information is accompanied by a constant accumulation of new big data. At the same time, old paper media are constantly digitized in order to save in case of danger and save space.

“DNA is one of the best, if not the best option, especially for archival data storage,” says Chao Pan, who participated in the new study.

His colleague S. Kasra Tabatabaei adds: “Every day, the Internet generates several petabytes of data (ten to the fifteenth bytes. — Approx. ed.). Just one gram of DNA is enough to store this amount of information. So great is the capacity of DNA as a digital repository.”

In addition, DNA is very stable and durable. This biomolecule remains in the environment for tens and even thousands of years without losing the information encoded in it. Thanks to this, scientists extract and sequence DNA from long-dead and fossilized organisms.

Usually DNA is a helix of two chains, each of which is formed by four types of “letters” – these are the so-called nucleotides: A, T, C and G. It is in their sequence – or, as molecular biologists say, the primary structure – that genetic information is encoded.

However, this was not enough for the authors of the new article. They supplemented the four natural DNA nucleotides with seven new ones that have a different structure. It turns out that their version of DNA consists of 11 different letters – this greatly increased the information capacity of the molecule.

“We tried 77 different combinations of these 11 nucleotides and found that our method was excellent at distinguishing them ,” says Pan. He called the involved platform universal and capable of successfully distinguishing chemically modified nucleotides in solving other problems.

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