Earth Biogenome Project


What is the Earth Biogenome Project?

Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, informatics, automation, and artificial intelligence, have propelled humankind to the threshold of a new beginning in understanding, utilizing, and conserving biodiversity. For the first time in history, it is possible to efficiently sequence the genomes of all known species, and to use genomics to help discover the remaining 80 to 90 percent of species that are currently hidden from science.

Storing information digitally, forever (?)

Paper; Grass, R. N., Heckel, R., Puddu, M., Paunescu, D. and Stark, W. J. (2015), Robust Chemical Preservation of Digital Information on DNA in Silica with Error-Correcting Codes. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 54: 2552–2555. doi:10.1002/anie.201411378;jsessionid=85555FF20B0252D7ED1D7361EE0E6ABF.f02t02

Robust Chemical Preservation of Digital Information on DNA in Silica with Error-Correcting Codes


Information, such as text printed on paper or images projected onto microfilm, can survive for over 500 years. However, the storage of digital information for time frames exceeding 50 years is challenging. Here we show that digital information can be stored on DNA and recovered without errors for considerably longer time frames. To allow for the perfect recovery of the information, we encapsulate the DNA in an inorganic matrix, and employ error-correcting codes to correct storage-related errors. Specifically, we translated 83 kB of information to 4991 DNA segments, each 158 nucleotides long, which were encapsulated in silica. Accelerated aging experiments were performed to measure DNA decay kinetics, which show that data can be archived on DNA for millennia under a wide range of conditions. The original information could be recovered error free, even after treating the DNA in silica at 70 °C for one week. This is thermally equivalent to storing information on DNA in central Europe for 2000 years.