Category Archives: Storing Data Into Plants

Understanding Information

It is my great pleasure to announce the book “Understanding Information – From the Big Bang to Big Data” (link). The motivation of this book is to understand  the subject of information from many different perspectives.  The book includes contributions ranging from biology, neuroscience, computer science, artificial intelligence, quantum physics, big data, information society and philosophy. I would like to say many thanks to the respected editor Dr. Schuster from Tokyo for an invitation to contribute to this amazing and futuristic work. It was an honor to experience that sort of commitment and creative feedback. Our contribution covers the potential of plants and seeds in DNA-based information storage;full description of the experiment and its futuristic applications.

Labelling of varieties covered by patent protection

One of practical implications of storing data into plants is an insertion of short DNA labels into protected plant varieties. It is a new approach for managing intellectual property rights in the seed industry. By using our online application tool it will become easy to distinguish protected from non-protected varieties. The original scientific article was published in Transgenic Research by Springer and is available at:


Breaking the Wall of Data Storage

Have you ever imagined storing a computer program, music or your party picture from early 20`s into a plant. Imagine resting in a near park, taking a leaf from a flower and listening to the Rolling Stones directly from it? This sort of “green” information hosting could become a reality.

New approaches for data archiving are required due to a constant increase in digital information production and the lack of a capacitive, low maintenance storage medium. High-density information encoding and longevity are the two important advantages which have recently made DNA an attractive target for information storage. The DNA-based storage scheme could be scaled far beyond current global information volumes. However, creating new copies of the same encoded information by producing new artificial DNA sequences is not financially viable. Moreover, a naked DNA molecule can be greatly affected by  UV,  atmospheric water and oxygen thus resulting in DNA mutations and consequently changes in the stored information.

My husband Iztok ( and I conceived an idea and designed our pilot experiment to show the great potential of plants and their seeds in circumventing these drawback of DNA-based data memory. We have encoded a “Hello World” computer program into a DNA code, synthesized it and cloned this Code DNA into a plasmid vector to be further used for transforming Nicotiana benthamiana plants.The encoded program was reconstructed from the resulting seedlings with 100% accuracy and the plant said “Hello World” on the screen. Our approach demonstrates that artifficialy encoded data can be stored and multiplied within plants without affecting their vigour and fertility. It is inherent in progenies and authentically reproducible while the reduced metabolism of the seeds provides an additional protection for encoded DNA archives.

Try out our coding scheme and read more at:

Experimetal data, N. benthamiana and its seeds with included Code DNA.

This is the first report about the utilization of a multi-cellular, eukaryotic organism for storing valuable data. It goes beyond plant genome manipulations for biotechnological research and plant breeding or simple embedded “watermarks”. It takes the advantage of a multi-cellular organism and serves for propagating the encoded information in daughter cells. It avoids the costs of synthetically producig multiple copies of the same encoded information, which is currently estimated to be  12,400 per MB for information storage in naked DNA. Also stored within a seed, DNA is protected against alterations and degradation over time without the need of any active maintenace.

As for manipulating and storing archives, our approach could leverage a new look at accessing, browsing and reading information since hand-held, single-molecule DNA sequencers are becoming available and their upgrade to being able to obtain an encoded sequence directly from a leaf, could be the next point in development. And since imagination prevails over knowledge, one day all disc plantages could be replaced by plant-tech.


Falling Walls Berlin, November 2015

On November 8th I was presenting Breaking the Wall of Data Storage in Berlin at the Falling Walls Lab.

Falling Walls is a unique international platform for leaders from the worlds of science, business, politics, the arts and society. It was initiated on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Inspired by this world-changing event on 9 November 1989, the question of every Falling Walls gathering is: Which walls will fall next? Falling Walls fosters discussion on research and innovation and promotes the latest scientific findings among a broad audience from all parts of society.

It was a unique experience, we really made some new strong international acquaintances. After the speech I was asked to give an interview for the New Scientist journal and it was my great pleasure to give it.

At the after Lab meeting Iztok and I had an opportunity to meet some great people around the world, it was really a mind blowing experience to share ideas and thoughts with them.