Wednesday, July 22, 2020

DNA barcode browser

Motivated by the 2020 Ebbe Nielsen Challenge I've put together an interactive DNA barcode browser. The app is live at

A naturalist from the 19th century would find little in GBIF that they weren’t familiar with. We have species in a Linnean hierarchy, their distributions plotted on a map. This method of summarising data is appropriate to much of the data in GBIF, but impoverishes the display of sequence data such as barcodes. Given a set of DNA barcodes we can compute a phylogeny for those sequences, and gain evidence for taxonomic groups, intraspecific genetic structure, etc. So I wanted to see if it was possible to make simple tool to interactively explore barcode data. This means we need fast methods for searching for similar sequences, and building phylogenies. I've been experimenting with ways to do this for the last couple of years, but have only now managed to put something together. For more details, see the repository. There is also a quick introductory video.