Crowdsourcing the Genome

The human genome, all three billion chemical letters in our DNA, may be spelled out, but the process of reading its meaning continues. To figure out where genes reside on the chromosomes, and what the genes might do, scientists pull together information from multiple sources. To speed up that process, a group of scientists has harnessed the Internet through Wikipedia.

Their new gene wiki is dispersed on many pages throughout the user-generated encyclopedia. The scientists, led by Andrew I. Su, of the Novartis Research Foundation, in San Diego, automated a process to create Wikipedia “stub” articles about genes that are described in existing databases. Already, the scientists report in an article in the journal PLoS Biology, the number of edits on mammalian gene pages has doubled since they added the gene-stub pages.

“With the entire community’s input,” the authors write, “we envision this gene wiki evolving into a collection of collaboratively created, continually updated, community-reviewed review articles for every gene in the human genome.” —Lila Guterman

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