Scientists use gene editing to digitally store information in bacteria

Scientists at the Columbia University in New York, USA have used a gene editing technique to store digital data inside living bacteria. With the help of a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) adaptation system, the scientists inserted specific DNA sequences of the four bases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), thymine (T), and guanine (G) — that encode binary data (the 1s and 0s used by computers) into the cells of E. coli bacteria. As explained by ZME Science, different arrangements of the four bases can be used to encode different letters of the alphabet; this is what enabled the scientists to store the text message ‘Hello world!’ in the bacterial cells. The message was then read by extracting and sequencing the bacterial DNA. According to Columbia University researchers, the work establishes a direct digital-to-biological data storage framework and advancing the capacity for information exchange between silicon and carbon-based entities.