Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Zerpify a clover!

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone,

In honor of St. Patrick's day, I wanted to share a little side project I've been pondering for a while: Zerpify your own clover!

By using a conversion such as (A = 00, T = 01, C = 10, G = 11) you can convert your secret key from an alphanumeric string to binary to DNA. You can then take this DNA sequence to the nearest university and with a sufficient degree of bribery (or asking nicely) convince someone to clone it into an Agrobacterium vector and incubate a clover flower or cutting in the bacterial solution.

The result? Integration of your secret key somewhere into the clover's genome!

Every time your clover plant propagates, each cell will contain a copy of your secret key. Even if the plant were to succumb to drought/radiation/rabbit attack, there would still be a decent window of time to recover DNA from a few leaves or roots. In fact, because the sequence is so short (<120 base pairs) you'd have a fairly decent chance of recovering the DNA sequence with minimal to no degradation. As an added bonus, the size of the genome (Trifolium repens has 10^9 base pairs, about a third the size of the human genome) imposes an extra layer of biological encryption. Only you and your new scientist friend will know the upstream primer sequence and proper reading frame to "decrypt" (find) the secret key, and only you will know the correct DNA -> ASCII conversion. If you're the paranoid type, replace the first "s" of your secret key with any other ASCII character to protect against brute-force attack.

Now granted, the individual plants are still relatively easily killed. But because they propagate, they can be readily stored in multiple locations including pressed inside books at your friends' houses, or preserved in amber (à la Jurassic Park) and kept in a ring or necklace. It's a bit like the philosophy of blockchain distributing a public ledger across multiple potentially vulnerable computers, rather than a single fortified database.

Of course the lazy single-person way to do this would be to order the DNA sequence (~$100 USD* plus shipping and handling), reconstitute in distilled water, brush onto clover, let air dry, and press into a book/preserve in amber. You won't have genome integration, but anyone sequencing the leaf will also sequence the DNA that's dried on its surface.

...or you can just soak a clover in blue food coloring like I did below.


Acknowledgements: This work was funded in part by a grant from the TTTGV Foundation. R.S. is grateful to the XRPChat community for valuable discussions. R.S. declares financial interests in XRP.

*$0.80/base pair at https://www.idtdna.com/pages/products/custom-dna-rna/dna-oligos/ultramer-dna-oligos. If you wish to shorten your binary sequence by using a method other than ASCII encoding, you can drive the price down further. And no, unfortunately that's not the same IDT that's partnered with Ripple.


Disclaimer: Please don't actually plant any genetically modified clovers in your backyard. There is a non-zero chance you could cause irreparable damage to the local ecosystem. You may also be liable to fines and penalties from a dozen different government agencies.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, jag216 said:

Heh, for a second there I thought you said blue triskelion

8 hours ago, Valhalla_Guy said:

Will they sprout blue leaves (petals)?

The chlorophyll will mask any blue, but if you put the root of the clover in water with blue food coloring the flower will be blue 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this