Bacterial Backups

by Gordon Mohr

Related link: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993243



"Hey, don't empty that beaker... it's my MP3 collection!"



New Scientist magazine reports that scientists have stored text data in the DNA of living bacteria -- and then recovered the message after a hundred generations of reproduction:


The scientists took the words of the song It's a Small World and translated it into a code based on the four "letters" of DNA. They then created artificial DNA strands recording different parts of the song. These DNA messages, each about 150 bases long, were inserted into bacteria such as E. coli and Deinococcus radiodurans.


No word yet on whether they've searched the DNA of creatures in the wild for pre-existing messages from ancient extraterrestrials.



Lawyers from Disney and the Harry Fox Agency have sent a "cease and desist" letter to the E. coli and Deinococcus radiodurans demanding that they immediately stop reproducing Disney's copyrighted lyrics. At 7 cents a copy, the petri dish of ever-dividing bacteria now owes $24 trillion in mechanical licensing fees, and counting.





What messages would you store in bacteria for discovery by the distant future?