Total DNA on Earth Estimated at 50 Trillion Trillion Trillion

Monday, July 20, 2015

DNA Count

A research published in the journal PLoS Biology states that the total number of DNA base pairs contained on earth is 50 trillion trillion trillion, plus or minus 3.6 x10^37 base pairs. This daunting task of calculating DNA was undertaken by scientists from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

The study was compiled after researchers reviewed microbes, plants, animals and fungi after which they calculated their total biomass based on the estimated number of living individuals and their size. It was followed by calculating the number of cells in each organism and multiplying that by the amount of DNA contained in each cell. This gave them a value for the amount of DNA contained in a given person, tree, mushroom or bacterium.

Hanna Landenmark, a doctoral candidate in astrobiology said, “It’s (DNA) the smallest unit of information we have, and all of that information has the potential of being connected to and interacting with everything else.” If the estimated DNAs are collected in one place, then they would weigh 50 billion tons and fill one billion shipping containers.

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