We produce immense amounts of data every day. In fact, statistics show that we produce 2,5 exabytes of data every day. That is 2500 billion gigabytes and that is a lot by anyone's standards. And the trends are rising.

Well, it is not concerning that the trends are rising. The concerning thing is our approach to data storage.

We use different storage media ranging in their capacity from kilobytes to terabytes. The problem with known storage media is their limited capacity, space consumption (data storage centers can take up to a hectar of surface with all contributing facilities) and their limited lifespan up to a decade or so.

And this drawbacks present a wall in data storage.

It was a rainy afternoon. Iztok and I were looking out the window wondering where to permanently store all of our digital information on our computer and why can't we put all the data in the history of mankind in one stone, near spruce or oak...and that was the click. We put a sketch on a piece of paper, wrote some DNA sequences and the flow of events took care of the rest.

We contacted two biotechnologists from Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana. Prof. Dr Borut Bohanec and Dr. Jana Murovec were prepared to put our DNA encoded computer program into Nicotiana Benthamiana plant. We wrote a program in Python programming language, transformed it from ASCII to binary and translated the sequence of 0s and 1s into A, C, T, G sequence of nucleotides. Our code DNA was incorporated into N. benthamiana plant and today we have our computer program stored in its growing progeny and seeds. The incorporated data was obtained from a leaf with 100 percent accuracy. It is the first practical utilization of storing meaningful data in multicellular organisms.

Where do we see the potentials of this approach? 1g of DNA can store exabytes of data and this is huge capacity. Protected within a seed or a living plant can last for millenia.

It is a free copy-paste method reducing the costs of de-novo synthesis of artificial DNA.

It is friendly to environment.

And just imagine how this could change the way we browse, access and store digital data. Imagine having your own, small, handy DNA sequence reader...you go to a park, take a leaf, put it inside...and yes, you can listen to the Rolling Stones or browse Wikipedia directly from a leaf.

As they say, every science fiction eventually becomes reality and we surely wish our society could one day live in a world led by pure, green technology.

Karin Ljubič Fister and Iztok Fister Jr.

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