Bioscientists find ways to store data using the DNA of common household bacteria

There is nothing worse than not having enough space on your mobile phone to store holiday photos and videos. We are forced to delete old data to clear room for the new. As we try to find the 'trash' icon, moments pass as we are lost in time. If only we had another gigabyte! Maybe you do, have you checked the fridge lately?

In every refrigerator there is a bacteria feeding frenzy. The household refrigerator is a great breeding ground for bacteria like Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli. This bacteria often causes food poisoning when ingested due to food contamination.

Engineer and Neuroscientist, John Hewitt reported that scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were able to store 700 terabytes of data on a single gram of E. coli DNA. That's the same as the amount of data stored on a tower of 14,000 Blu-ray discs. In the future, your data may even be encrypted and stored within your personal DNA.

In their research paper entitled The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things, EMC says "Like the physical universe, the digital universe is large - by 2020 containing nearly as many digital bits as there are stars in the universe. It is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe - the data we create and copy annually - will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes."

Traditional forms of data storage are no longer going to be sustainable. Today's hard drives are slow, unreliable and consume vast amounts of electricity. Enterprise storage requires redundancy leading to multiple copies of the same data, requiring further duplication as it is backed up. The cost of storing data has the potential to increase exponentially.

Over the past couple of decades, individuals have been forced to consider their carbon footprint and its effect on the world around us. While we're changing our behaviour in regard to greenhouse emissions, we hardly give thought to our resource hungry digital addiction and its effect on global emissions. Most of this is invisible to us as it is in the 'cloud', out of sight and out of mind. The ability to store data on DNA, will significantly disrupt the way that we store information and help us to address the issue of global emissions as we move into the future of innovative, sustainable data storage.

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