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Crowdsourcing sequence alignments in a AAA game for Microbiome research

Genomic Applications Partnership Program
Genome Centre(s):
Génome Québec
Project Leader(s):
Jérôme Waldispühl (McGill University)
Receptor Leader(s):
Attila Szantner (Massively Multiplayer Online Science)
Project Description: 

MMOS is developing crowdsourcing solutions with video game companies to help tackle research challenges. The team plans to utilize crowdsourcing on a gaming platform to offer a solution to the production of high-quality multiple sequence alignments for very large read data sets for microbiome research. Automated data analysis pipelines have limited success in generating high quality gene alignments, the time required for analysis by genetics experts is prohibitive and there is no accepted metrics to decide what the best alignment is. To solve this problem, the project team will embed small alignment puzzles into a new popular video game and collect the solutions generated by the games. The millions of solutions generated by the gamers will be used to create custom algorithms to build an improved alignment of the initial sequence data. The novelty of this citizen science approach will generate significant news coverage and media exposure leading to increased game sales for MMOS and Gearbox. In addition, the crowdsourcing pipeline developed will be used to accelerate the productivity of Canadian microbiome initiatives and promote public understanding of the impact of the microbiome on our health.