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Launch of GenoCon: First-ever Contest in Rational Genome Design Based on Semantic-web Technology
Date:5/24/2010

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Built upon semantic web technology, GenoCon is the first contest of its kind, offering contestants the chance to compete in technologies for rational genome design. To succeed, contestants must make effective use of genomic and protein data contained in SciNeS database clusters to design DNA sequences that improve plant physiology. In the first GenoCon, contestants are asked to design a DNA sequence conferring to the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana the functionality to effectively eliminate and detoxify airborne Formaldehyde.

For their part, contestants are constrained to so-called bioinformatics activities, designing DNA sequences from genomic-related information in a browser-based programming environment provided by SciNeS (Fig.1). RIKEN and other research institutes are then responsible for inserting these DNA sequences into genomes and evaluating experimentally the functions of the resulting Arabidopsis thaliana plants.

A new web-based framework for collaboration in synthetic biology, referred to as “open-optimization research*3”, is provided to GenoCon contestants to help make effective use of DNA information resources in creating improved bio-resources. Genome design theories and programs submitted by contestants from all over the world will be compiled within RIKEN SciNeS and shared under a Creative Commons Public License, contributing to advancements in biomass engineering and other fields of Green Biotechnology.

GenoCon also offers, in addition to categories for Japanese and international researchers and university students, a category specifically for high-school students. Just as ROBOCON (Robot Contest), GenoCon thus provides opportunities for young people to learn about the most cutting-edge science with a sense of pleasure, bringing intellectual excitement to the field of Life Science and supporting a future generation of scientists.

GenoCon will be accepting entries to the contest starting May
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