Over a decade ago, our late co-founder Dr. Jim Hu and then postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Brenley McIntosh, started an experiment to show that Aggie undergraduates could read primary literature and extract meaningful biological information and produce Gene Ontology annotations as well as trained biocurators. The effort was organized as an elective course in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics of TExas A&M and quickly converted into an online intercollegiate competition, where nearly 800 students have participated in peer review of each other’s annotations. Instructors from more than 30 different universities, experienced peers, and trained scientists reviewed the >11,000 submissions from published literature studying all domains of life and viruses. The corrected entries were contributed to global databases used by scientists worldwide. Now, Crowdsourcing biocuration: The Community Assessment of Community Annotation with Ontologies (CACAO) has been published in PLOS Computational Biology with Dr. Jolene Ramsey, graduate student Sandra LaBonte, and former Hu lab members as co-first authors. This paper describes ~5000 Gene Ontology annotations, and emphasizes that the student curators annotated proteins not otherwise covered by the professionals, especially in the area of phage research.
Center for Phage Technology: Home / Research Highlights / Crowdsourced biocuration by Aggies appears in publication