MIT Engineers have developed a way to create genomic tape recorders out of the Bacteria E. Coli. Timothy Lu, an engineering professor at the university describes the method by which they altered the bacterial DNA in order to allow it to store information. The researchers engineered the cells to produce a recombinase enzyme which can insert a certain sequence of Nucleotides into the genome. However, the trait is useful because the enzyme is activated by specific stimuli. In order to retrieve the information the researchers can either sequence the genome and look for the specific code or look for the trait expressed by the targeted gene by using antibiotics. This process will be useful in the future because of its ability to store long term biological memory. Also, this process transcends previous limitations of genome storage as it is now able to indiscriminately store data as opposed to previous methods that were only able to identify a specific stimulus.
It’s amazing that people are making these type of innovations. The amount of work and sheer brain power that is involved in these type of discoveries is really crazy to think about. It seems like there can be so many applications for this and that it can help us to understand genetics and traits so much better than we already do. This is an article on this topic from the MIT website: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/bacteria-storage-device-memory-1113.
Very cool! Being in school, it is interesting to see how we can increase our ability to store information. It is interesting how they have two different approaches to retrieve the necessary information. The ability to store data, as opposed to previously only being able to identify specific stimulus is fascinating. At IFL Science researchers have been able to create retrons that create specific DNA strands when a specific stimulus, like light or chemicals, is present. They are trying to use this system to monitor different environments.
Great article! The potentials of this invention are vast. A similar article describes various uses for the bacteria as they have the ability to respond to diverse stimuli. For example, the bacteria could be put in the ocean to measure the carbon dioxide or pollution levels. (http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/scientists-turn-bacteria-dna-tape-recorders)