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back to article Boffins cram binary data into living cells' DNA

In a move that could have appeared in a Michael Crichton novel, Stanford University brainiacs have written and read a binary digit encoded in a DNA cell sequence which survives cell reproduction - a non-volatile genetic bit. DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid, contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of …

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The question is...

Is it faster than NAND?

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Speed might be OK, but the latency is killing

most likely

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Re: Speed might be OK, but the latency is killing

Latency may be slow, but it's a lot of fun...

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Thumb Up

John Horton Conway would be amused :)

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TRT
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It'll still be susceptible to viruses.

Do NOT install penicillin.

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Meh

Re: It'll still be susceptible to viruses.

or even PCillin

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Headmaster

Re: It'll still be susceptible to viruses.

Tut tut,

have you been reading the Daily Mail again ?

Virus are not affected by antibiotics only bacteria are.

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Pint

Re: It'll still be susceptible to viruses.

Alan Smithie, I call pedant fail. The boffins were using bacterial cells and bacterial enzymes, so antibiotics would mess things up, just as a few bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) would.

And I'd be willing to bet some Saccharomyces cerevisiae product that the bacteria they used was E. coli.

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The title says they crammed it with binary data -- but the article says it is one bit currently, and a decade away from a byte.

But storing large amounts of data should be relatively trivial. It sounds like the innovation here is that it is R/W storage (of one bit) in that they can flip the bit via enzymes, and further, it might be possible to program the genome of the bacteria to produce the enzymes itself so it can affect its own state.

At least, that is what I got out of the summary.

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That's what I got from it as well

Any sort of gene manipulation can be viewed as a process of encoding data. What they've done here is to make the write process more user friendly.

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Anonymous Coward

Adds a microscopic dimension to

... cleansing/debugging your data.

If all else fails, Domestos is the new 'rm -fR *'

I wonder how the bit density compares to a hard disk/silicon... probably not that good?

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Dolly?

If they had problems with Dolly then religion is going to have a field day with this one

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Devil

Si-fi concept of genetic memory..

Any reasons why fear of X,Y, 'fuck it has more legs than I can count', revealed in this research?

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Re: Si-fi concept of genetic memory..

I think there's a greater chance of producing Leeloo from Fifth Element. She was supposed to have all the vital information encoded in her DNA, was she not?

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Pirate

Copyright?

The big question is will this open up a whole new frontier for the copyright lawyers; bit torrents that breed! Having children outlawed under DMCA!

Electronic is so last century!

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Angel

Now we know how to pirate software/IP and sneak it through customs!

"Have you anything to declare sir?"

"No officer."

"Well, anyway, we'll require a DNA sample just to make sure."

>:-)

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Boffin

Sneaking software through customs ?

The tool used is not quite DNA, but take a look at Ian McDonald's great novella from 2006, «The little goddess»....

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Customs

ROFLMAO! You owe me a new keyboard Graham Wilson.

I wonder how long it will be before DNA has to be given at the border, "just in case".

AC/DC

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One day, you would say : "Hey go format yourself ! "

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Alien

How many years will it be til we we can encode a cheesy movie for our far flung descendants in their DNA? How many more til we have a way of seeding the rest of the galaxy with this cheesy movie?

"The Chase"

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Happy

How long until they figure out how to read the stuff already put there?

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Happy

s/they/we/

There, fixed it for you.

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Anonymous Coward

Why are they using binary when DNA is capable of holding vastly more than 2 states? It seems strange to me to apply the limitations of electronic computing to something that really has no need to be constrained by them.

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Boffin

Mutation

I suppose it is easier to encode an 1/0 value that survives random mutations than trying to do more complex data on that. Every time a cell reproduces, there's a probability that mutation will happen. These boffins were able to make said value survive these mutations. That's a pretty good achievement for them...

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FAIL

DNA is Binary.

There are only 2 values in DNA...

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Coat

I confidently predict...

640KB of genetic memory ought to be enough for anybody!

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: I confidently predict...

Haha. Have all my upvotes.

C.

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Alien

Prior art

Aliens already did this. What we think is our "junk DNA" is actually links to some sites on the galactic Internet, which we'll be able to decode around the time our technology is good enough to connect to the galactic Internet.

Unfortunately its been a while, so these links are about as useful as links on Earth's Internet to geocities and myspace are today.

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Alien

Re: Prior art

"Teen girloids in your local supercluster are waiting to quchat with you"

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Happy

Re: Prior art

Nah, it's the copyright headers. It would seem that we are under a variant of the Apache License.

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Pint

Aliens, or any possible creators

Maybe human foibles are caused by our DNA carrying watermark-tech messages such as "Borgs rule - Humans drool; We nailed your ancestors circa 150,000BC", or perhaps "God wuz here I told you I was real".

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Ace science...

... but there is no usable *IT* technology here, probably never will be. In terms of genetic technology there is always potential anywhere you can control genetic material; but I really cannot see why "Programmable data storage within the DNA of living cells would seem an incredibly powerful tool for studying cancer, ageing, organismal development and even the natural environment." That just sounds like marketing, rather than science.

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Holmes

Re: Ace science...

If you can use these enzymes to turn off and on an arbitrary bit, then (with further research and understanding of course) it is very logical to think we could identify the DNA code that makes us age (this happens by design to make way for new improved DNA generations) and use the same enzymes to turn the DNA code off for the aging process, or for a type of cancerous cell etc.

this a proof of concept for read/write to DNA the real use will come down the road when we are read writing things we want to change in our DNA (like changing genetic diseases etc)

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Re: Ace science...

Rob,

I completely agree but that's my point. This is useful technology for genetics - just not informatics.

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Stop

I think you mean Greg Bear

Bring on the Noocytes ! I for one....etc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Music_(novel)

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Pint

In the future, we'll be able to program our dogs to leave binary coded dog poo all over the park for someone else to pick up - the future of file sharing maybe??

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