TOOLS: Mining the Plasmodium Genome

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Science  06 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5514, pp. 19
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5514.19a

The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, has for decades frustrated researchers trying to understand everything from its biochemistry to the function of its genes. A new site featuring data from the Malaria Genome Project, however, offers researchers a powerful collection of tools for mining data and new insights into this leading enemy of public health.

PlasmoDB, developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Australia's Monash University, is built around a relational database. It allows researchers to explore the Plasmodium genome based on chromosome location, microsatellite markers, predicted genes and protein features, and the results of BLAST similarity searches. Users can also call up graphical views of the data, run BLAST searches, and even search using a protein motif that they define. PlasmoDB also offers sequence data for other Plasmodium species.

For researchers out of reach of high-speed Internet access—in the field under mosquito netting, perhaps—PlasmoDB also comes on a free CD. While not as powerful as the online version, Plasmodium GenePlot offers graphical representations of the entire genome, sequence retrieval capabilities, BLAST results, and other aids in the search for knowledge.

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