Who Needs Film When You Can Store A Movie in Bacteria DNA?
by Deborah Netburn
You might call it the smallest movie ever made.
This week, a team of scientists report that they have successfully embedded a short film into the DNA of living bacteria cells.
The mini-movie, really a GIF, is a five-frame animation of a galloping thoroughbred mare named Annie G. The iconic images were taken by the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge in the late 1800s for his photo series titled Human and Animal Locomotion.
….Coding five frames of a movie seemed like a perfect place to start.
The researchers began the work by breaking each frame of the film into a grid of 36 pixels by 26 pixels. Next they developed a way to code the color of each pixel using the nucleotides A, C, T and G, which are the building blocks of DNA. They also included a code that indicated where in the frame each pixel belonged. They did not encode the order of the frames, however.
…In the end, each frame consisted of 104 DNA sequences that the team inserted into a population of bacteria cells using a process called electroporation. Basically, they zapped the cells with electricity, which caused pores in their membrane to open, allowing the synthesized DNA to pass into them.