Researchers Used CRISPR to Put a GIF Inside a Living Bacteria
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Researchers Used CRISPR to Put a GIF Inside a Living Bacteria
17 July, 2017

The idea of using DNA as storage is not that unreal. Harvard University geneticist George Church and his team have used the gene-editing system CRISPR to insert a GIF into the genomes of living Escherichia colibacteria. The researchers converted the individual pixels of each image into nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA. What that means is that you can potentially store digital data on your skin.

The researchers delivered the GIF into the living bacteria in the form of five frames. They used images of a galloping horse and rider, taken by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who produced the first stop-motion photographs in the 1870s. Then they retrieved the data by sequencing the bacterial DNA. It is stated they’ve successfully reconstructed the image with 90 percent accuracy by reading the pixel nucleotide code.

Yaniv Erlich, a computer scientist and biologist at Columbia University, thinks that this model represents a scalable way to host information in living cells that could eventually be used in human cells.

Uploading information into living cells is a one tough challenge because live cells are constantly moving, changing, dividing, and dying off, but it appears that the idea is not impossible. 

Seth Shipman, a scientist who led the study, states he has ideas on using the model to make “living sensors” that can record what is happening inside a cell or in its environment.

The idea still has a long way to go, but the future might be interesting. Imagine you could deposit bacterial hard drives in the body or anywhere in the world, record something you might be interested in, collect the bacteria, and sequence the DNA to see what information has been picked up along the way.


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