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Bioinformatics on the Bus: WiGID Database Broadens the Wireless Genomics Repertoire

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Good news for workaholic bioinformatics commuters: The list of genomic databases specially formatted for mobile phones is growing. A little over a year after the launch of BioWAP, the first bioinformatics service based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) standard, a new database called WiGID is now available for wireless download.

WiGID (Wireless Genome Information Database), compiled by Bjorn Ursing at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, is a secondary resource that formats information from several publicly available genome databases into a mobile-friendly form. Ursing, who manually curated the current “beta” version of the database, described it as “a guide to what kind of genomes are there.” WiGID is intended for researchers who want to quickly look up whether a particular species has been sequenced or not, or how large a specific genome may be, without logging onto a hard-wired machine. Indeed, Ursing’s inspiration to create the database came on the bus: He said he was reading a journal article during the ride and wanted a quick way to look up some basic genomic information about the species in the paper. “It’s not intended to do a Blast search,” he noted.

Each one-line entry in the database includes a “WiGID-specific” entry number, along with species and strain name, genome size, number of open reading frames, EMBL accession number, literature reference, year published, G+C content, and taxonomic category.

While demand for wireless bioinformatics may not be that great right now, Ursing noted, “It’s just like the Internet in 1996. If you asked around, people would say, ‘Why do I need the Internet? There’s nothing there.’ And of course, if there’s nobody doing anything there will be nothing,” he said.

WiGID is available through WAP at http://wigid.cgb.ki.se/index.wml and through the web at http://wigid.cgb.ki.se.

A paper on WiGID appears in the current issue of Bioinformatics.

— BT

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