Movie Encoded into Bacterial DNA

Movie Encoded into Bacterial DNA OUPT

A team of scientists from the Harvard University in Cambridge on July 13, 2017, created history by encoding a short film into the DNA of a bacteria for the very first time.

The team inserted a GIF, which consisted of the image of a human hand and five frames of a horse galloping, captured by a photographer named Eadweard Muybridge in the late 19th Century. They made use of Crispr, a genome editing tool to insert the gif into the DNA of bacteria. The bacterial DNA was then sequenced in order to retrieve the gif and the image, thus proving the incorporation of the data into the microbes.

The Nature journal reflects that the scientists were able to insert this data into the bacterial genomes by first transferring the data onto nucleotides, giving rise to the production of codes for each pixel of every image.

The target cells used in this experiment was the DNA of E.coli, into which the genetic code was inserted using two proteins through Crispr.

The data transfer process of the gif into the bacterial cells involved frame by frame sequence delivery, over a period of five days. This data was spread throughout the genomes of multiple bacteria. Containing all information in a single cell is not possible, meaning each cell will only see certain parts of the movie. This imposed as a problem, which was successfully solved by reconstructing the whole movie from different pieces. A custom computer code was used to unscramble the genetic information, so as to read the sequenced DNA.

The research achieved an accuracy level of 90% by encoding complex information such as images and time bound components such as movies into the bacterial DNA. This generates scope for creating molecular recorders in the near future.

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