Digital production, transmission and storage have revolutionized how we access and use information but have also made archiving an increasingly complex task that requires active, continuing maintenance of digital media. This challenge has focused some interest on DNA as an attractive target for information storage1 because of its capacity for high-density information encoding, longevity under easily achieved conditions2,3,4 and proven track record as an information bearer. Previous DNA-based information storage approaches have encoded only trivial amounts of information5,6,7 or were not amenable to scaling-up8, and used no robust error-correction and lacked examination of their cost-efficiency for large-scale information archival9. Here we describe a scalable method that can reliably store more information than has been handled before. We encoded computer files totalling 739 kilobytes of hard-disk storage and with an estimated Shannon information10 of 5.2 × 106 bits into a DNA code, synthesized this DNA, sequenced it and reconstructed the original files with 100% accuracy. Theoretical analysis indicates that our DNA-based storage scheme could be scaled far beyond current global information volumes and offers a realistic technology for large-scale, long-term and infrequently accessed digital archiving. In fact, current trends in technological advances are reducing DNA synthesis costs at a pace that should make our scheme cost-effective for sub-50-year archiving within a decade.
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At the University of Cambridge: D. MacKay and G. Mitchison for advice on codes for run-length-limited channels. At CERN: B. Jones for discussions on data archival. At EBI: A. Löytynoja for custom multiple sequence alignment software, H. Marsden for computing base calls and for detecting an error in the original parity-check encoding, T. Massingham for computing base calls and advice on code theory and K. Gori, D. Henk, R. Loos, S. Parks and R. Schwarz for assistance with revisions to the manuscript. In the Genomics Core Facility at EMBL Heidelberg: V. Benes for advice on Next-Generation Sequencing protocols, D. Pavlinić for sequencing and J. Blake for data handling. C.D. is supported by a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant 136461). B.S. is supported by an EMBL Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship under Marie Curie Actions (COFUND).
This file contains the GATK ErrorRatePerCycle report on Illumina HiSeq 2000 sequencing run.
About this article
Nature Biotechnology (2018)