In this week's Nature, a Harvard University-led team reports the use of CRISPR genome editing to encode images and a short movie into the DNA of bacteria, building on previous work pointing to DNA as a potential medium for data storage. They encoded the pixel values of black and white images and a short movie into the genomes of a population of living Escherichia coli, demonstrating a system that can capture and stably store practical amounts of real data within the genomes of populations of living cells. The work also offers new insights into the functioning of the CRISPR system. The Scan has more on this, here.
In Nature Microbiology, a pair of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh presents data showing that bacteriophage evolution varies depending on host, lifestyle, and genetic constitution. They demonstrate that lytic and temperate phages evolve within two different general evolutionary modes that differ in the extent of horizontal gene transfer by an order of magnitude. These modes also appear to depend on the host phylum, genetics, and ecology. "Other factors such as variations in host range evolution, differential access to the common gene pool in different environments, constraints on the diversity of genomes available for recombination, and the roles of temperate phages at different microbial densities are also expected to contribute to these modes of phage genome evolution," the authors note.