This is how BactusLabs began to store important information in bacteria.

Some of our scientists took the words of the song 'It's a Small World' and translated it into a code based on the four "letters" of DNA. They then created artificial DNA strands recording different parts of the song. These DNA messages, each about 150 bases long, were inserted into bacteria such as E. coli and Deinococcus radiodurans. The latter is especially good at surviving extreme conditions, says Wong. It can tolerate high temperatures, desiccation, ultraviolet light and ionising radiation doses 1000 times higher than would be fatal to humans.

The beginning and end of each inserted message have special DNA tags devised by the scientists. These "sentinels" stop the bacteria from identifying the message as an invading a virus and destroying it. "The magic of the sentinel is that it protects the information, so that even after a hundred bacterial generations we were able to retrieve the exact message". "Once the DNA message is in bacteria, it is protected and can survive." Moreover, as a millilitre of liquid can contain up to billion bacteria, the potential capacity of such a memory system is enormous.