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DNA of Microbes used for data repository

Image credit: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/dna-could-store-all-worlds-data-one-room

Nitish Sharma
Nitish Sharma Oct 30, 2020



General comments

Martina Pesce
Martina Pesce2 months ago
I agree with the current struggles which make it a hard to use the device for the general user, but I believe that it may be a good investment to sort out a problem that was being discussed here: https://brainstorming.com/sessions/how-to-create-an-internet-where-%22big-data%22-isn't-a-problem/180

If to sort out the too many and sensible data problems the solution will be to actually store for short time, as some suggested in the session, then this tool would be absolutely perfect for its intrinsic property of auto-destruction.

As such, it can find application for any situation in which is needed to hold a lot of information for a short amount of time. Some examples:
-raw data storage for scientific research
-raw data storage for any field, actually
-google databases ( for example for maps, since it gets updated anyway every now and then you don't really need to keep ALL the information forever)

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 months ago
Martina Pesce I don't think it can completely eliminate the problems with data misuse described here - https://brainstorming.com/sessions/how-to-create-an-internet-where-%22big-data%22-isn't-a-problem/180 because to give you a better user experience, the service providers (social media platforms) need to use your personal data. When they want to use your data, they will need to read the DNA sequence and then translate it to computer language. Once they translate it, it is immaterial whether the data is stored in the DNA, since now, it is already there in the computer-readable form and anybody can use/ misuse it. If you take the alternative approach and disallow the translation of the data to computer language without the user's permission, then the user will miss out on the personalized treatment any platform provides. If the user is missing out on it, you may might as well not store the data (in any form, including DNA).
Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 months ago
The idea is good and feasible. I see one problem in the long term. The microbial species evolve way faster. That might bring about changes in the genome and, therefore, the data. There should be some mechanism in place to reduce the changes brought about in the DNA. The proper maintenance of the culture conditions can be one of the ways to reduce drift. However, that will not solve the problem 100%.

Please do check the contribution "Deinococcus radiodurans as safe-keeper of the host cell's DNA" here (https://brainstorming.com/sessions/engineered-endosymbiosis:-what-would-be-some-amazing-collaborations/164). In short, Deinococcus radiodurans protects it own DNA form damage well. The underlying mechanisms can be exploited to keep the DNA from changing. Since mutation is the first step to evolution, let's nab it in its bud. By disallowing mutations, we can probably hold off/ slow down drastically the evolution of the species that are storing the data.
Darko Savic
Darko Savic2 months ago
Could the data storing species be treated with something that prevents jumping genes, epigenetic changes, etc?
Juran3 months ago
It's really cool idea! It would be nice to see the comparison of the size and maintenance costs of storing 215 GB of data in microbial genome and in silico (hard drive somewhere).

The main problem is, I think, what else do you need to read and write the data in your "alive drive"? I guess you need a lab with good equipment, enough computing power to do the R&W process fast and efficient, plus it all needs to be very sterile so you do not contaminate your data :D.

Although it seems really cool and could be suitable for higher-level of encryption (using specific posttranscriptional modifications or epigenetics e.g.) it still needs to find its proper niche of application.
For everyday user of technology, it seems that it is not saving your money or time if you store your 50GB of highschool photos in a 230 nanograms of microbes.

But definitely something that could grow big if developed slowly and smartly.