DNA Digital Data Whets Its Appetite

May 12, 2020 | Biotechnology

This week's Lab.Equipment Biotechnology news is sourced from GEN:

Like Pac-Man frantically gobbling up pixelated dots, the world is furiously consuming data. Unlike Pac-Man, the world is in danger of becoming full—and soon. Data is entering our lives and driving our decisions like never before. According to Domo, a cloud software company, in every minute of 2019, Americans were using 4,416,720 gigabytes of internet data, including data for 188,000,000 emails, 4,497,420 Google searches, and even 1,400,000 Tinder swipes. Market research from We Are Social offers an international perspective: In 2019, the internet welcomed more than one million new users every day.

Whether from the internet, digital photos, or even secret military operations, data streams are flowing ever more prodigiously. Demand for data storage will soon outstrip the availability of memory-grade silicon. Additionally, current storage devices have a limited lifespan and relatively low density. However, Mother Nature has been solving this problem for about a billion years. She’s already created nature’s oldest and most reliable hard drive . . . DNA!

Because it is so dense, a single gram of DNA can store 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) of data. DNA is also very robust. Scientists recently obtained DNA from the tooth of a rhinoceros that lived 1.7 million years ago. They also extracted DNA from the 5000-year-old remains of Ötzi, the so-called Iceman, identifying living Austrian relatives and determining he was lactose intolerant.

But before you can store your family photos on a DNA hard drive, there are a number of challenges that must be overcome such as cost and speed of DNA synthesis. GEN spoke with several industry experts to gain insights into how this new revolution hopes to solve the global data explosion.

DNA-writing enzymes

Converting digital code to DNA code is relatively straightforward if you can navigate the world of algorithms as well as DNA synthesis and analysis. First, convert a d... More of this in the GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News Blog.

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