SITE VISIT: Biotech Bonanza

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Science  18 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5456, pp. 1163
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5456.1163c

The Internet offers a growing treasure trove for molecular biologists, from databases of mouse genes and enzymatic pathways to virus images and bioinformatics tutorials. Ever wonder if anyone's tried to collect all this bio lore in one place? Look no further than the National Biotechnology Information Facility.

This 3-year-old site, housed at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, is a storehouse of some 7000 biotechnology links. Each is neatly annotated with a brief description, listed alphabetically, and sorted by category. Researchers will find all the bread-and-butter gene and protein sequence databases as well as more focused sites. You can link to an atlas of protein side-chain interactions, for instance, or a database of telomere papers, or guides to Xenopus molecular markers or soybean metabolic pathways. The software page lists all sorts of free tools for drawing chemical and protein structures, and even one for estimating how many eons ago two protein sequences diverged.

If you need to download a stunning image of bread mold spores or a murky gray photo of a hantavirus, scan the images page. Other offerings include biotech news, patent databases, lab safety guidelines, and career sites. There are also educational resources and the site's own Outbreak game, in which students try to save a city from a mysterious disease outbreak by doing virtual lab tests to ID the dangerous bug.

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