Meet the Data-Storing Bacteria

Hard drives. Who needs em?
Bacteria have been at the forefront of news lately, and not just for causing illness. For instance, NASA discovered bacteria in California that dines out on arsenic, and researchers figured out how to make bacteria play Sudoku. However, scientists are now testing the capability of storing electronic data in E.coli.

According to Cambridge University’s student magazine BlueSci, researchers from the University of Hong Kong managed to place 90GB of data into the DNA of a colony of eighteen E.coli. The data can also be encrypted by site-specific genetic recombination; a purely natural process that means data can be jumbled up.

Science is weird.

Given that there are apparently around 10 million cells in a gram of bacteria, and each cell can hold approximately 5GB, this could lead to some pretty enormous storage capacities. Plus, different types of cells have stronger radioresistance than others, meaning the cells--and data in them--would survive a nuclear blast.

However, the discovery still has a lot of work to go, as retrieving the data is “tedious and expensive” for now. That, and DNA cells can mutate, which could destroy some of the data stored. Due to these threats, the testing has only been done on genetically modified bacteria and limited to copyright information data storing only. So don’t feel too guilty about killing the bacteria in your house with germ-busting cleaners just yet.

[BlueSci via Engadget]

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