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Bio Saga

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Putting That Bioinformatics 101 Class to Work

In a paper called "Metagenome Annotation Using a Distributed Grid of Undergraduate Students" I just love this title! It's nerdy and cute, all at the same time. Says Sandra Porter.

The paper describes a class where students from Marseilles University investigate the function of unidentified genes from a Global Ocean Sampling experiment. All the sequences are obtained from the environmental sequence division at the NCBI.

French researchers describe their strategy for teaching undergraduate-level bioinformatics using cutting-edge genomic data and a Web-based learning tool. The students then annotated real metagenomic sequences from the Global Ocean Sampling experiment. "In return for their much-needed help sorting out oodles of DNA data, the undergrads gain a practical knowledge of the work involved in doing bioinformatics and metagenomics, and, most importantly of all, they get to experience what it's like to do real research," says Karen James at the Beagle Project. Jonathan Eisen's a fan of the work, too, not only because it was metagenomics and published in a PLoS journal, but also because the software is open source.

Pascal Hingamp et al discuss in detail the Open Source, Open Science system for metagenome annotation (see PLoS Biology - Metagenome Annotation Using a Distributed Grid of Undergraduate Students).

They do this as part of a course on metagenome annotation. And the software for running this is all Open Source and available. They say in a way this is a metagenomics version of the Undergraduate Genomics Research Initiative (UGRI) which was described in a PLoS Biology paper previously.

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