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Crowdsourcing the analysis of environmental metagenomic data for biodiversity and antimicrobial resistance genes through a AAA video game

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Generating solutions

Status

Active

Competition

Genomic Applications Partnership Program

Genome Centre(s)

GE3LS

Yes

Project Leader(s)

Fiscal Year Project Launched

2024-2025

Project Description

The accuracy and reproducibility of genomic studies rely on the quality of available data. When possible, manual curation is the gold standard for preparing these resources. However, the large volume of metagenomic data, especially in environmental and public health, outpaces human processing capacities. In a previous GAPP project, Gearbox showed that commercial video games can provide access to massive human processing resources for curating multiple sequence alignments for genomic research. Over a 3-year period, Borderlands Science, a mini game, became the largest citizen science initiative in the world with 4 million participants and 135 million puzzle solutions collected for human microbiome research.

The project team will now develop a citizen science framework to process metagenomics and metabolomics data sets from the Earth Microbiome Project for identifying antibiotic resistance genes in metagenome-assembled genomes. The team will also develop a mobile version to increase accessibility and user engagement, and open new channels of communication with the public.

The integration of citizen science projects in video games could bring the equivalent of millions of dollars in advertisement and sustain the expansion of Gearbox’s Canadian studios. The video game industry in Canada, now worth $3.4 billion, has grown by 20% since 2019 and ranks among the largest in the world. The project will also leverage ESG (environmental, social and governance) as a workforce strategy for the industry, increasing the attractiveness of jobs in Canada in a competitive landscape. Increased public understanding of biodiversity and awareness of antimicrobial resistance will reinforce public trust in the need for public policies to address sustainability challenges.

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