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Data Storage Biotech

Data Storing Bacteria Could Last Millennia 252

PetManimal writes "Computerworld has a story about a new technology developed by Keio University researchers that creates artificial bacterial DNA that can carry more than 100 bits of data within the genome sequence. The researchers claimed that they encoded "e= mc2 1905!" on the common soil bacteria, Bacillius subtilis. The bacteria-based data storage method has backup and long-term archival functionality." The researchers say "While the technology would most likely first be used to track medication, it could also be used to store text and images for many millennia, thwarting the longevity issues associated with today's disk and tape storage systems ... The artificial DNA that carries the data to be preserved makes multiple copies of the DNA and inserts the original as well as identical copies into the bacterial genome sequence. The multiple copies work as backup files to counteract natural degradation of the preserved data, according to the newswire. Bacteria have particularly compact DNA, which is passed down from generation to generation. The information stored in that DNA can also be passed on for long-term preservation of large data files."
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Data Storing Bacteria Could Last Millennia

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  • by Statecraftsman ( 718862 ) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @01:13AM (#18190980) Homepage
    It's hard enough keeping track of all these CD's and DVD's.
  • Re:Longevity Issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ibag ( 101144 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @01:59AM (#18191266)
    Exactly. The fact that the data is preserved by being copied every 20 minutes is entirely counteracted by the fact that reproduction is inherently error prone. Many species of bacteria regularly swap DNA to get around the fact that their reproduction is mostly asexual, but even then, mutations can and do occur. Without some mechanism to kill the bacteria when there is a mutation with the encoded data, this is a horrible long term data storage solution. There are interesting short term tracking applications, but data storage? No.
  • Old news (Score:4, Informative)

    by gessel ( 310103 ) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @02:29AM (#18191414) Homepage
    Joe Davis did this more than 17years [] ago.

  • Re:Overwriting? (Score:3, Informative)

    by joggle ( 594025 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @02:52AM (#18191490) Homepage Journal
    You are referring to this episode []. It was effectively an arms race between the Klingong, Cardassian, Romulans and Federation to figure out this hidden code in the DNA of various humanoid species in the galaxy. They didn't know what the data was but some assumed it was instructions for building some sort of devistating weapon. It turns out to be a holograph program recording set by the 'founders' of the galaxy that had seeded each planet with dna.
  • by mbessey ( 304651 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:26AM (#18191634) Homepage Journal
    A quick spritz of Lysol isn't going to affect the DNA of the bacteria much, if at all. Denaturing the DNA is not how antiseptics kill bacteria. I think that data stored in this fashion would actually be a lot harder to destroy than magnetic storage. After all, they can extract (fragments of) DNA from fossils.
  • Re:A Must (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2007 @08:50AM (#18192812)
    Can do that already with over the counter gear.

    Sony has an incredibly thin and small USB drive (Micro Vault), a simple knife cut in a tennis shoe or removing the insole in your loafers give you the spot to put it. smuggle in, copy, smuggle out easily. Incredibly effective against the $8.00 an hour security these companies hire. (CEO get's $1,000 an hour and really does nothing, Security gets $8.00 and is the frontline defense for the company... the management is stupid.)

    Dont need bacteria I can smuggle easily and undetected.

    Problem is when you have a bacteria storage system and find that nobody has fed the storage system for a few months. DAMMIT IT DIED!
  • by dantho ( 1070282 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @05:26PM (#18199388)
    well, this is not news really. joe davis (MIT) suceeded doing this several years ago. he recoded E.COLI bacteria - taken off of space detritus. read more: Scientific American []

    dont wanna click: here is some nice info about him:
    * Expelled from three high schools and two colleges: for writing about atheism, refusing a haircut, making a still (which exploded), being elected student body president on a "free marijuana" platform and working on an underground anti-war newspaper.

    * Walked into the M.I.T. Center for Advanced Visual Studies uninvited in 1982. Secretary called the cops. Forty-five minutes later, Davis walked out with an appointment as a research fellow. (TRUE)

    * Latest project is to build a biomechanical ornithopter powered by electrically stimulated frogs legs and to fly it across the Charles river. (it worked and he ate the frogs legs.)

    * Uses hollow steel peg leg to open beer bottles, to accompany the band (bugle-style) at his local bar, and to charm curious women at parties. (TRUE, but he can do more...)

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