A simpler cheaper system has been developed to code in DNA. This implicitly recognizes the more complex coding in native DNA. (The news article also assumes the evolutionary doctrine of “junk DNA”.) The contrast with hard drives, this low density coding method and natural DNA shows the very high coding density in DNA.
. . .the researchers discovered a system to encode digital information within DNA. This method relies on the length of the fragments obtained by the partial restriction digest rather than the actual content of the nucleotide sequence. As a result, the technology eliminates the need to use expensive sequencing machinery.
Why is this discovery important? The human genome consists of the equivalent of approximately 750 MB of data—a significant amount of storage space. However, only about 3% of DNA goes into composing the more than 22,000 genes that make us what we are. The remaining 97% leaves plenty of room to encode information in a genome, allowing the information to be preserved and replicated in perpetuity. . . .
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In “Length-based Encoding of Binary Data in DNA”, Nathaniel G. Portney, Yonghui Wu, Stefano Lonardi, and Mihri Ozkan (from UCR’s departments of Bioengineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering, and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering) write:
We developed a system to encode digital information in DNA polymers based on the partial restriction digest (PRD). Our encoding method relies on the length of the fragments obtained by the PRD rather than the actual content of the nucleotide sequence, thus eliminating the need for expensive sequencing machinery. In this letter, we report on the encoding of 12 bits of data in a DNA fragment of 110 nucleotides and the process of recovering the data.
Dexyribonucleic acid (DNA) has a promising future in the area of digital information storage because of its high capacity, stability, and error resilience (e.g., see Bancroft1 and Cox2 for examples ofDNAdigital storage prototypes). DNA-based storage has already spawned a variety of commercial applications. For example, several companies provide DNA-based technologies to prevent and identify counterfeits (see, e.g., Applied DNA sciences at http://www.adnas.com/, PSA/DNA at http://www.psadna.com/, and DNA Technologies at http://www.dnatechnologies.com/). The object that needs to be authenticated is labeled with a tiny quantity of DNA that cannot be easily detected. The detection can be achieved by PCR amplification, provided that one knows a primer (which plays the role of a cryptographic key). . . .
;We reported on a method to store binary in DNA that exploits the partial restriction enzyme digest rather than sequencing. Our
method requires a rather inexpensive procedure that may be used to decode sensitive data in the field using a dual digest following the electrophoresis procedure. Although the storage density is just 0.11 bits/nucleotide, the decoding process dismisses sequencing completely. By using a single gel with 24 lanes, one could resolve 288 bits of data in several hours with only femtomolar quantities of material. . . .
See full paper “Length-based Encoding of Binary Data in DNA”,