Scientific Correspondence | Published:

Hiding messages in DNA microdots

Nature volume 399, pages 533534 (10 June 1999) | Download Citation


  • A Correction to this article was published on 16 December 1999


The microdot is a means of concealing messages (steganography)1 that was developed by Professor Zapp and used by German spies in the Second World War to transmit secret information2. A microdot (“the enemy's masterpiece of espionage”2) was a greatly reduced photograph of a typewritten page that was pasted over a full stop in an innocuous letter2. We have taken the microdot a step further and developed a DNA-based, doubly steganographic technique for sending secret messages. A DNA-encoded message is first camouflaged within the enormous complexity of human genomic DNA and then further concealed by confining this sample to a microdot.

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  1. 1.

    Kahn, D. The Codebreakers (Scribner, New York, 1996).

  2. 2.

    Reader's Digest 48, 1–6 (April 1946).

  3. 3.

    Arch. Dis. Child 79, 109–115 (1998).

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    • Viviana Risca

    Present address: Paul D. Schreiber High School, Port Washington, New York 11050, USA


  1. Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA   e-mail:

    • Catherine Taylor Clelland
    •  & Carter Bancroft


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