The Scientific Activist

Do You Work on E. Coli?

If so, you should check out EcoliWiki, which you might find a useful resource, and you might even find yourself compelled to contribute some of your knowledge to it.

Since I’m already blogging about E. coli today, I thought I would also bring up an interesting project I found out about earlier this week. I’m currently wrapping up a short visit to my alma mater, Texas A&M University, and while there, I’ve met up with two local science bloggers that I know of: Matt Springer of Built on Facts (a fellow blogger here on and Jim Hu of Blogs for Industry. Hu is an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, and earlier this week he told me about EcoliWiki, which is one of his latest projects. The goal of EcoliWiki, which functions under the larger umbrella of the NIH-funded EcoliHub project, is to use open-source/wiki methods to fully annotate the E. coli genome.

As more and more genomes become fully sequenced, annotating each by traditional means, relying solely on in-house curators, becomes increasingly expensive and impractical. The goal of EcoliWiki, on the other hand, is to instead distribute this task among the scientific community at large, making the task more time- and cost-effective–and hopefully serving as an example for other genomes as they go online as well. To prevent spam and to provide some quality control, annotators have to be registered in order to contribute. The project already has many contributors, but many more are needed for it to reach its full potential, so if you’re interested in contributing, you can email Hu or myself. For more on the use of wikis in science, check out this article in Nature or this letter in Science.