Citizen scientists have recently published a paper in PLOS One tracking human male migration and expansion, using the R1b1a2 gene on the Y chromosome. What makes this work special is the citizen scientist aspect of it. Following on from our previous article on bioinformatics as a growing hobby, this work shows that such a hobby can be a truly useful form of crowd sourced science. One of the authors of the paper remarked:
We’ve tried to show how such progress can be facilitated by an engaged community of individuals, with varied and complementary skills, connected via the Internet.
Find out more at Futurity. Also check out our educational page on DIY biology.
Bioinformatics is the study of data generated from biological experiments. With the advent of high-throughput sequencing and many other rapidly improving technologies Biologists are often producing far more data than they can properly analyze. With data being so easy to produce we have massive amounts of data, much of it publicly available – which could hold the keys to new medicines, cures, of breakthroughs. This data just needs someone to look through it. Using data mining software bioinformaticians look though data to find interesting patterns or to find answers to questions. But just like DIY Biology, bioinformatics isn’t restricted to professionals. Given that all you need to do bioinformatics is a computer and some spare time, anyone can do it.