This is mainly a followup question to the recent paper Next-Generation Digital Information Storage in DNA.

Personally, while I agree about the data density of the format, I can't help point out the large issues with the inability to rewrite and recopy the data efficiently and potential issues regarding the "immutability" of the data. I'm curious about other takes on the publication and whether or not the stability of the DNA as well as the "writing" inefficiencies are better than I'm believing.

  • $\begingroup$ the-scientist.com/2012/08/16/dna-data-storage, for the lazier. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ My own view is that while reading DNA has advanced (and is still advancing) immensely, but writing is very much a work in process and still has a long way to go. As for stability/fidelity, I don't think there is a problem, considering that the Neanderthal genome was sequenced and it was stored in less-than-perfect conditions. $\endgroup$
    – Bitwise
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


I can at least answer the question about the stability of the stored information. With my colleagues, I worked for several years to estimate the rate of DNA degradation at room temperatures. Our results showed that the information could be retrieved after 100,000 years storage.

  • $\begingroup$ Did you publish the research? Could you link to it? $\endgroup$
    – Rory M
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Jerome. Given the source of the studies, it's probably not published. $\endgroup$
    – bobthejoe
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ I seem to recall a recent report that DNA had a half-life of 517 years. I don't know the conditions under which this was tested. I'll look up the reference and post it here. $\endgroup$
    – user560
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ EDIT: 521 years, radiocarbon dated from bone fossils, specifically measuring mtDNA. (rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/10/05/…). That said, dried DNA is orders of magnitude more stable at room temp than solubilized DNA, so the longevity of DNA for storage, when the conditions are not specified, can vary widely. $\endgroup$
    – user560
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ Further more, Harvard researchers have used DNA to encode 700 TB of binary information into a single gram of dsDNA. hms.harvard.edu/content/writing-book-dna $\endgroup$
    – user560
    Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 15:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .