How can DNA be used to store information?

183 views

I heard that DNA could be used as the smallest flash drive possible with a much larger storage capability than anything else we have today, if that is the case, how does that work? is it always human DNA?

In: Technology

1,000,000,000 tb (2 bits per nucleotide) of data can be stored in 1g of DNA, whereas a flash drive holds 4gb of data on average.

Ok so I did a quick google and learns something they actually did it! I learned this a a hypothetical or a way to conceptualize the capacity of DNA so this is exciting for me thank you.

Basically you have adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). These tiny guys bind in pairs always A&T as one and C&G as the other. They will read out ACG TAG CCT GGA with every 3 being one piece of information (like a letter of a word) put enough letters together and you have words.

DNA is just a really long string of different molecules, called nucleotides, one after another. Furthermore, since there are 4 different ones used in nature (there have been synthetic ones that use up to 8), you can store 2 bits per nucleotide. So 2 bits on a single tiny molecule, it doesn’t get much smaller.

And since cells have a natural way to replicate the DNA in order to divide, copying the data is as simple as adding a DNA polymerase and more loose nucleotides and heating the thing up. For the most part. You need some more stuff, but that’s the principle at least.
The more challenging task is to convert the information back into something that computers can use.

>is it always human DNA?

All DNA is the same chemically. What makes a DNA “human” is purely the data on it. This question is a bit like “is every string of bits a Word document”