CRISPR-Cas: Molecular Recording | Summary and Q&A

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July 12, 2017
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Harvard University
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CRISPR-Cas: Molecular Recording

TL;DR

Scientists have developed a method using the CRISPR adaptation system to encode and store information, including images and motion pictures, into the genomes of living bacteria.

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Key Insights

  • 👶 The CRISPR adaptation system can be used to encode and store information in living cells, providing a new method for long-term data storage.
  • 💁 By encoding images and motion pictures, scientists are exploring the possibility of recording biological information over time.
  • 💁 Storing information in bacterial populations increases storage capacity, potentially revolutionizing how complex systems in biology are studied.

Transcript

we have to suit almost every way the week as they go to encode information in compact and long-lasting forms most notably DNA what we're aiming to do in the grand sense basically is to encode information into living cells over time so we want to be able to write new information into the genome we use the CRISPR adaptation system and so this is a vi... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does the CRISPR adaptation system work to encode information into living cells?

The CRISPR adaptation system is a viral defense system found in bacteria. By hijacking this system, researchers can provide sequences for the bacteria to acquire, effectively encoding information into the genome.

Q: What kind of information can be encoded into living cells using this method?

This method allows for the encoding of various forms of information, including static images and moving pictures. By delivering this information over time to the living bacteria, it can be stored and reconstructed through sequencing.

Q: How is the information encoded into the DNA of the living bacteria?

The information, such as images, is split into pixels and then encoded into DNA. This encoded DNA is then brought into the bacterial cell through various means, such as the CRISPR-Cas system, and stored in a linear array in the order of appearance.

Q: What is the advantage of using a bacterial population to store information?

Bacterial populations offer greater storage capacity compared to individual bacteria. While the capacity of a single bacterium is limited, with billions of cells, the storage capacity can reach millions of gigabytes, allowing for large-scale information storage.

Summary

This video discusses the use of DNA to encode information in living cells. The CRISPR adaptation system is utilized to hijack the bacterial viral defense system and acquire sequences that can be used to generate molecular records or recordings in the genome of a living bacteria. The aim is to encode different types of information, including static and moving images, into the cells. By sequencing the bacteria, the images can be reconstructed. This method of recording biological information over time has the potential to revolutionize experimental biology.

Questions & Answers

Q: How do scientists encode information into living cells?

Scientists use the CRISPR adaptation system to acquire sequences that can be integrated into the genome of living bacteria. By hijacking this viral defense system, they are able to encode information into the cells.

Q: What type of information is used for encoding?

Different types of information are used for encoding, including static images and moving images. These images are delivered over time to the living bacteria.

Q: How do scientists sequence the bacteria to reconstruct the encoded information?

Once the cells have experienced the encoded information, their genomes are sequenced. Specifically, the CRISPR array is sequenced to reconstruct the information that was encoded.

Q: Why is encoding biological information over time significant?

Encoding biological information over time, such as motion pictures, allows for the recording of complex systems in biology. It provides a means to study and analyze biological processes without disrupting the system or constantly monitoring it.

Q: How is DNA used to store the encoded information?

The pixels of an image are split up and encoded into DNA. The DNA is then brought into the cell using various methods, including the CRISPR-Cas system. The encoded information is stored in a linear array in the order of appearance.

Q: Are there any limitations to the storage capacity of bacterial cells?

Yes, the capacity of a bacterial cell to store information is limited. However, by using a population of cells, each with its own storage capacity, it is possible to store a much larger amount of information. Billions of cells can potentially store millions of gigabytes of information.

Q: What are the potential applications of this molecular recording technique?

The hope is that molecular recorders over time will become a standard tool used in experimental biology. By allowing cells to log their own data, researchers can study complex biological systems without constant interference or disruption.

Q: How does the molecular recording method impact the study of complex biological systems?

The molecular recording method revolutionizes the study of complex biological systems by allowing the system to progress and develop without direct interference from the experimenter. The data is logged throughout the process and can be collected at the end, changing the way researchers approach the study of complex biological systems.

Q: How does the use of molecular recorders simplify the process of retrieving data from cells?

Traditionally, to extract information from cells, one must either continuously observe them or disrupt the system to collect the data. With molecular recorders, the cells themselves catalogue their own data, allowing researchers to collect the information at a later stage without constant monitoring or interference.

Q: What is the impact of encoding information in a bacterial population rather than individual cells?

Storing information in a bacterial population provides more storage capacity compared to individual cells. This allows for the potential storage of significantly larger amounts of information, revolutionizing the way biological data can be recorded and analyzed.

Takeaways

The ability to encode and record biological information in living cells using DNA has the potential to greatly impact experimental biology. By utilizing molecular recorders, researchers can study complex biological systems without constant monitoring or interference, thereby allowing the systems to develop naturally. This technique opens up new possibilities for the storage and analysis of biological data, revolutionizing the way we understand and study living organisms.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Using the CRISPR adaptation system, scientists hijack the viral defense system in bacteria to acquire and store sequences provided by researchers.

  • By encoding images and motion pictures into the DNA of living bacteria, scientists are able to sequence the bacteria and reconstruct the original images.

  • Storing information in bacterial populations allows for greater storage capacity, potentially reaching millions of gigabytes.

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