Inching closer to a DNA-based file system


  1. Now, a team of researchers has figured out how to add something like a filesystem to DNA storage, allowing random access to specific data within a large collection of DNA.
  2. To get a sense of why getting this right is important, just take the recently revived NASA satellite as an example—extracting anything from the satellite’s data will rely on the fact that a separate NASA mission had an antiquated tape drive that could read the satellite’s communication software.
  3. Each of these can be used to tag the intervening data as belonging to a specific file, allowing it to be amplified and sequenced separately, even if it’s present in a large mixture of DNA from different files.
  4. Still, the errors were mostly random, and the team was able to identify and correct them by sequencing enough molecules so that, on average, each DNA sequence was read 36 times.
  5. Once a bit of data is translated, it’s chopped up into smaller pieces (usually 100 to 150 bases long) and inserted in between ends that make it easier to copy and sequence.
  6. To restore the data, all the DNA has to be sequenced, the locational information read, and the DNA sequence decoded.
  7. Adding random access to data would cut down significantly on the amount of sequencing that would need to be done.


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