Riken Institute launches rational genome design competition

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The Bioinformatics And Systems Engineering (BASE), a division of Riken, Japan's flagship research institute, is holding its first ever International Rational Genome Design*1 Contest (GenoCon) on the semantic web. The contest makes use of an information infrastructure for life science research known as the Riken Scientists' Networking System (SciNeS*2) and will take place between May 25 and September 30.

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.

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.