Genetic Future

i-a221441ff68e28fb35cf0602fcd52516-mitowheel.jpgAttila Csordas has a post up at Partial Immortalization explaining how to use the application MitoWheel (which Csordas helped develop) to visualise data from the new Haplogroup Tree Mutation Mapper from 23andMe. This might be a fun way for genetic genealogy afficianados to spend a few minutes getting to know their genomes better.

This reminded me about a little experiment of Csordas’ that I learnt about when I met him in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago, which strikes me as a quintessential expression of the spirit of the personal genomic era – posting his genetic data from 23andMe, one base at a time, on Twitter.

Each entry includes the identifier code for the genetic variant in question, the chromosome and base position, and Csordas’ genotype (that is, the sequence he has at that site at each of the two copies he carries). Csordas has, of course, automated the tedious task of reformatting and posting each variant using a custom twitterbot. (Even so the experiment seems to have been at a standstill for over a week, with less than 0.05% of Csordas’ bases currently online.)

What’s the use of posting your genome on Twitter? It’s a good question, and one I’m not entirely sure Csordas has a good answer to yet – but following my conversation with him I began to see the glimmer of some embryonic applications (aside from the sheer exhibitionistic joy of flopping his genetic information out in public, that is). I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on @biosnippet to see what it gets up to next.