A team of scientists from Harvard University was able to successfully introduce a GIF into the genome of live Escherichia coli bacteria.
The GIF, an image with movement of a horse and its rider in black and white, was divided into 5 frames of which each pixel was encoded into nucleotides and placed into the DNA of the bacterium, using the CRISPR–Cas method. This method is based on the utilization of the bacteria’s adaptive immune system, in short, consisting of inserting small DNA sequences into its genome. This intrinsic defense mechanism of bacteria arose from a need to defend themselves against viruses, allowing the cell to recognize and eliminate infections.
Finally, the DNA sequencing of the bacteria allowed the scientists to reproduce the image with 90% accuracy, confirming the success of the experiment. According to the study, it has been shown that this system has the ability to capture and store information into the genome of living cells in a stable manner.
Taking into account the microscopic size of bacteria and the large information storage capacity of DNA, this technique may allow a large amount of information to be stored in a small compact space in the future, the aim of the scientists being the creation of tiny information “recorders” that can monitor the environment in which they are inserted, over time.