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Scientists to assemble 'knowledgebase' on plants, microbes, to aid US biofuel, environment efforts
Date:7/15/2011

Cold Spring Harbor, NY -- In the decade that has passed since the completion of the first draft sequence of the human genome, biologists have grown increasingly aware of a problem ironically generated by the success of their work. Biological experiments in the age of genomics -- including DNA sequencing, gene expression profiles, studies of cell-signaling pathways, protein binding, and other information-rich inquiries -- generate quantities of raw data so immense that they threaten to overwhelm researchers' ability to make sense of them.

Two Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) investigators are among the leaders of a multi-institutional effort announced this week by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to address the problem in one particular area of research involving plant and microbial life. The team has been awarded funding to create out of many separate streams of biological information a single, integrated cyber-"knowledgebase" (called Kbase, for short) focused specifically on these two fundamentally important forms of life.

A knowledgebase is an essential tool of systems biology an approach to the study of life that depends on integrating multiple information types and bringing them into meaningful relation, providing a basis to measure and model biological activity within an organism or across groups of organisms. A particularly exciting aspect of the project is that it will enable scientists to discover currently unknown relationships that exist between species and between groups of species and the surrounding environment interrelated and interdependent communities of microbes and plants, in this case.

"In contrast to a conventional database, a knowledgebase is really an entire body of knowledge," explains Doreen Ware, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a CSHL Adjunct Associate Professor. "In Kbase we will focus on a specific assortment of plants and microbes that the Energy Department hopes to exploit t
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Contact: Peter Tarr
tarr@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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