Keio University Develops Data Storage Technology Using Bacteria

Feb 26, 2007
Lili Mine, Nikkei Electronics

A research group formed by Keio University's Institute for Advanced Biosciences (IAB) and Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) has announced its successful development of a technology that uses bacteria and other microbes as long-term data storage media. The technology stores data by inserting synthetic DNA sequences to a genome that records gene information formed as DNA sequences consisting of A, T, G and C bases. Since microbes are by far smaller and keep gene information for generations, they can be applied for extremely smaller-size, larger-volume memory media that can store data for a longer period of time, compared to electronic or magnetic media including CD-ROM, flash memory and hard disc. However, DNA sequences gradually change as their generations advance and that has been a hurdle in the research of biotic memory media. The research group said its latest development indicated a possible resolution for this problem.

The research group developed a technology to copy and insert the same synthetic DNA sequences with converted data into multiple spots in a genome of a bacterium called Bacillius subtilis. Using this technology, a lot of the same DNA sequences can be derived from every DNA sequence in the bacteria's genome when reading the recorded information. Therefore, even if the recorded information is partly destroyed, original proper information can be restored from the remaining copies. The research group said it actually recorded Einstein's Relativity theory equation "E=mc2 1905!" on the Bacillius subtilis and confirmed possibility to keep the data for hundreds to thousands of years through computer simulations.

This research group consists of Professor Masaru Tomita, Director General at IAB; Yoshiaki Ohashi, Biomedical Manager at Human Metabolome Technologies, Inc.; and SFC students led by Taniuchi, who is in his second year in master's course at Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University. This achievement was posted on the electronic version of "Biotechnology Progress," an academic magazine issued by American Chemical Society.