Edinburgh Research Explorer

An Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Article number1002168
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2015

Abstract

Modern whole-organism genome analysis, in combination with biomass estimates, allows us to estimate a lower bound on the total information content in the biosphere: 5.3 x 10(31) (+/- 3.6 x 10(31)) megabases (Mb) of DNA. Given conservative estimates regarding DNA transcription rates, this information content suggests biosphere processing speeds exceeding yottaNOPS values (10(24) Nucleotide Operations Per Second). Although prokaryotes evolved at least 3 billion years before plants and animals, we find that the information content of prokaryotes is similar to plants and animals at the present day. This information-based approach offers a new way to quantify anthropogenic and natural processes in the biosphere and its information diversity over time.

    Research areas

  • SOIL PROTOZOA, GENOME SIZE, CARBON, LIFE, EVOLUTION, WEIGHT, IMPACT

ID: 21168453