Browse Definitions :
Definition

DNA storage

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

DNA storage is the process of encoding and decoding binary data onto and from synthesized strands of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). In nature, DNA molecules contain genetic blueprints for living cells and organisms.

To store a binary digital file as DNA, the individual bits (binary digits) are converted from 1 and 0 to the letters A, C, G, and T. These letters represent the four main compounds in DNA: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. The physical storage medium is a synthesized DNA molecule containing these four compounds in a sequence corresponding to the order of the bits in the digital file. To recover the data, the sequence A, C, G, and T representing the DNA molecule is decoded back into the original sequence of bits 1 and 0.

Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have encoded audio, image, and text files into a synthesized DNA molecule about the size of a dust grain, and then successfully read the information from the DNA to recover the files, claiming 99.99 percent accuracy.

An obvious advantage of DNA storage, should it ever become practical for everyday use, would be its ability to store massive quantities of data in media having small physical volume. Dr. Sriram Kosuri, a scientist at Harvard, believes that all the digital information currently existing in the world could reside in four grams of synthesized DNA.

A less obvious, but perhaps more significant, advantage of DNA storage is its longevity. Because DNA molecules can survive for thousands of years, a digital archive encoded in this form could be recovered by people for many generations to come. This longevity might resolve the troubling prospect of our digital age being lost to history because of the relative impermanence of optical, magnetic, and electronic media.

The principal disadvantages of DNA storage for practical use today are its slow encoding speed and high cost. The speed issue limits the technology's promise for archiving purposes in the near term, although eventually the speed may improve to the point where DNA storage can function effectively for general backup applications and perhaps even primary storage. As for the cost, Dr. Nick Goldman of the EMBL suggests that by the mid-2020s, expenses could come down to the point where the technology becomes commercially viable on a large scale.

This was last updated in July 2014

Continue Reading About DNA storage

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • compliance framework

    A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with...

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • privacy compliance

    Privacy compliance is a company's accordance with established personal information protection guidelines, specifications or ...

SearchSecurity

SearchHealthIT

  • telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United ...

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • disaster recovery (DR) test

    A disaster recovery test (DR test) is the examination of each step in a disaster recovery plan as outlined in an organization's ...

  • crisis management plan (CMP)

    A crisis management plan (CMP) is a document that outlines the processes an organization will use to respond to a critical ...

  • pandemic plan

    A pandemic plan is a documented strategy for business continuity in the event of a widespread outbreak of a dangerous infectious ...

SearchStorage

  • megabytes per second (MBps)

    Megabytes per second (MBps) is a unit of measurement for data transfer speed to and from a computer storage device.

  • zettabyte

    A zettabyte is a unit of measurement used by technology professionals and the general public to describe a computer or other ...

  • hybrid flash array

    A hybrid flash array is a solid-state storage system that contains a mix of flash memory drives and hard disk drives.

Close