Science and Technology Current Affairs

Scientists working toward storing digital information in DNA

Scientists are working towards storing digital data in the base sequence of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).

Thus they are seeking to make the genetic material capable to store data for long time in durable format as an archive data for the future.

DNA: information-storing molecule

DNA is by its essence an information-storing molecule. It carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living

These genetic instructions are passed from generation to generation by the genes. It basically transmits the blueprints for creating the human body.

How DNA store information?

The information in the DNA is stored in strings i.e. in the form four-letter DNA code. It is basically sequences of four building blocks (nuclear strands) abbreviated as A (Adenine), C (Cytosine), T (Thymine) and G (Guanine) found in DNA molecule. Specific sequences of these blocks give the body directions for creating particular proteins.

How can DNA carry Digital information?

  • Basically digital devices store information in binary format (1s and 0s) i.e. in a two-letter code that produces strings of 1s and 0s. For ex. capital ‘A’ stored as 01000001 in binary format.
  • In case of converting and storing digital information in DNA involves translating between the two sequences or codes of four building blocks. For ex. capital ‘A’ converted and stored as AATATG.
  • The DNA digital data storage technology uses artificial DNA made using oligonucleotide synthesis machines for storage and DNA sequencing machines for retrieval of stored data.
  • Using this technology strings of DNA can be custom-made that can carry the new code, and store information that code contains.

Advantages: DNA digital data storage technology has very long durability i.e. scientists can store digital information in DNA sequences for thousands of years. Information stored in DNA consumes very little space.

Challenges: Making this technology practical and much cheaper using current technology is hugely expensive.


Brazilian scientists identify another type of Zika-transmitting mosquito

Brazilian scientists have identified Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito infected by the Zika virus as another type of Zika-transmitting mosquito.

It was identified by researchers from the public Brazilian laboratory Fundacion Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) in three out of 80 groups of mosquitoes analysed up until now.

Up until now, transmission of the Zika virus was only known through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same vector that spreads Dengue and Chikungunya.

The Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito is known as the domestic mosquito in Brazil. In Recife, where the majority of Zika cases of Brazil were registered, the population of this mosquito is estimated to be 20 times larger than that of the Aedes aegypti.

About Zika virus

Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by mosquitoes. The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads. Besides a possible link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected