As the researchers reported in the journal PLOS Biology, they found that Earth contains around 50 trillion trillion trillion DNA base pairs — the building blocks of DNA’s double helix — plus or minus 3.6 x 10^37 base pairs. If gathered together, that amount of DNA would weigh 50 billion tons and fill one billion shipping containers.
The team also calculated the planet’s equivalent of computing power: the speed of DNA transcription. Given the average rate of genetic transcription for different organismal groups, they found that the biosphere processes more than 10^24 subunits of DNA per second.
Storing the total amount of information encoded in DNA in the biosphere, 5.3 × 1031 megabases (Mb), would require approximately 10^21 supercomputers with the average storage capacity of the world’s four most powerful supercomputers.