Chinese scientists find new way to store robust DNA data: Nature

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DNA is considered an ideal storage medium in the age of data explosion due to its high density, long-term durability and low maintenance cost. /APC

DNA is considered an ideal storage medium in the age of data explosion due to its high density, long-term durability and low maintenance cost. /APC

According to an article published on Nature Communication September 12.

DNA is an ideal storage medium due to its high density, long-term durability, and low maintenance cost. However, it could be very unstable because DNA strands break and rearrangements occur frequently during DNA synthesis, amplification, sequencing, and preservation, making data storage difficult.

Researchers from the Frontiers Science Center for Synthetic Biology and the Key Laboratory of Systems Bioengineering at Tianjin University in northern China have developed a novel strand assembly algorithm using the de Bruijn graph and greedy search paths to meet such challenges, according to the article.

Simply put, the algorithm is a code-decode system that targets the innate defect of DNA. It also handles DNA breaks and rearrangements during the curation of DNA molecules and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based data copying as a means of error detection and correction.

Scientists managed to store 10 pieces of wall paintings found in Dunhuang, Gansu province (northwest China), in data equivalent to 6.8 MB. They also tested its robustness by accelerated aging, multiple independent data extractions, deep error-prone PCR, and large-scale simulations.

The result, which shows the robustness of their DNA storage algorithm, is proven by successfully retrieving encoded information from a DNA solution that has been incubated at 70 degrees Celsius for 70 days without any special protection.

This is “estimated to be equivalent to that under 9.4 degrees Celsius for over 20,000 years,” the researchers said.

The study also achieved a high logic density of 1.30 bits/cycle because the method would typically compromise logic density.

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