Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, Volume 52, Issue 11, pp 945–961 | Cite as

DNA-LCEB: a high-capacity and mutation-resistant DNA data-hiding approach by employing encryption, error correcting codes, and hybrid twofold and fourfold codon-based strategy for synonymous substitution in amino acids

  • Ibbad Hafeez
  • Asifullah Khan
  • Abdul Qadir
Original Article


Data-hiding in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequences can be used to develop an organic memory and to track parent genes in an offspring as well as in genetically modified organism. However, the main concerns regarding data-hiding in DNA sequences are the survival of organism and successful extraction of watermark from DNA. This implies that the organism should live and reproduce without any functional disorder even in the presence of the embedded data. Consequently, performing synonymous substitution in amino acids for watermarking becomes a primary option. In this regard, a hybrid watermark embedding strategy that employs synonymous substitution in both twofold and fourfold codons of amino acids is proposed. This work thus presents a high-capacity and mutation-resistant watermarking technique, DNA-LCEB, for hiding secret information in DNA of living organisms. By employing the different types of synonymous codons of amino acids, the data storage capacity has been significantly increased. It is further observed that the proposed DNA-LCEB employing a combination of synonymous substitution, lossless compression, encryption, and Bose–Chaudary–Hocquenghem coding is secure and performs better in terms of both capacity and robustness compared to existing DNA data-hiding schemes. The proposed DNA-LCEB is tested against different mutations, including silent, miss-sense, and non-sense mutations, and provides substantial improvement in terms of mutation detection/correction rate and bits per nucleotide. A web application for DNA-LCEB is available at


DNA Data hiding Watermarking Organic Memory Synonymous substitution Amino acids 



This work is supported by ICT R&D, Pakistan research grant project; ICTRDF/TR&D/2012/62-DEWS and COMSTECH-TWAS Joint Research Grants Program for Young Scientist; 12-216 RG/ITC/AS-C; UNESCO FR: 3240270865. We also thank Mr. Khurram Jawad for his help in improving the write-up of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11517_2014_1194_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (153 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 153 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Computer and Information SciencesPakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS)IslamabadPakistan

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