Right now digital files such as music and movies are stored on computer hard drives and huge servers, but one day they might be stored inside the DNA of microscopic bacteria. These images are taken from one of the earliest movies ever made - ‘Sallie Gardner at a Gallop’, also known as ‘The Horse in Motion’, created by the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge in 1878. The pictures look grainy because the image data has been converted into DNA code, inserted into bacteria using a technique called CRISPR, then retrieved and reassembled by sequencing the bacterial DNA. Although it isn’t exactly a blockbuster, this simple movie proves that DNA-based storage works for writing and reading information. The researchers hope to use similar technology to create ‘molecular movie cameras’, using living bacterial cells to monitor and record information in the environment such as pollution levels by writing the data into their DNA.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.