Monday, August 24, 2015

Fraxinus, A Crowd-Sourced Citizen Scientist game

There are a few well known crowd-sourced projects which are used by researchers to compute large amounts of data or find solutions to problems which would be to taxing or expensive for a normal computer.  Sometimes also called games with a purpose, the data is presented in such a way as to resemble more of a game rather than endless pages of numbers.  Think Foldit, Zooniverse/Galaxy Zoo, or EteRNA.

A recently published article discussed a crowd-sourced game, Fraxinus, which was used to study the genome of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a fungus that causes ash dieback.  Fraxinus had players arranging sequences of DNA to make long chains of alignments.  Most interestingly, over half of the alignment answers, 74,356 of 154,038, were submitted by only 49 people, representing 0.7% of all the players.  The game proved again that crowd-sourced projects can be a viable tool to analyze large amounts of data and get the average citizen involved in the researching process.

European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), the species of trees which were infected by ash dieback by Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

To learn more about Fraxinus: Lessons from Fraxinus, a crowd-sourced citizen science game in genomics