A team of 10 Biochemistry students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong has developed a way to store and en/decrypt data onto living bacteria cells. The project called ‘Bioencryption‘ was submitted to MIT’s iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) 2010 contest.
The bacterial storage system developed by the team was able to get the 8,074 character Declaration of Independence stored in 18 cells of bacteria (specifically a DH5-alpha strain of E.coli). In addition, it also achieved data encryption through DNA sequence shuffling to secure the information.
An encoding system takes the original data, turns it into a quaternary number, and then encodes it as a DNA sequence. That process also involves compressing the data to allow for more storage within the same sequence.
They also believe any data can be stored using this method including text, images, music, and video. With this technology, it is estimated that one gram of bacteria can store data of up to 900,000 GB, which is equivalent to 450 hard drives, each with 2 TB of storage capacity.
The project won gold at the contest.