An estimate of the total DNA in the biosphere

H.K. E. Landenmark, D.H. Forgan, C.S. Cockell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


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 × 1031 (±3.6 × 1031) megabases (Mb) of DNA. Given conservative estimates regarding DNA transcription rates, this information content suggests biosphere processing speeds exceeding yottaNOPS values (1024 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 informationbased approach offers a new way to quantify anthropogenic and natural processes in the biosphere and its information diversity over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015


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