Today’s Solutions: May 29, 2024

In a remarkable study published in Nature Biotechnology, researchers discovered gaming’s transformative potential in biomedical research. Borderlands Science, an interactive mini-game included in Borderlands 3, has helped users analyze microbiological evolutionary histories. “We’ve been amazed by the results,” says Jérôme Waldispühl, an associate professor at McGill’s School of Computer Science and the study’s senior author.” In half a day, the Borderlands Science players collected five times more data about microbial DNA sequences than our earlier game, Phylo, had collected over a 10-year period.”

Gamers as citizen scientists: unlocking the potential of mass collaboration

Borderlands Science has sparked a global partnership between gamers and scientists, demonstrating the power of citizen science in addressing complicated research concerns. “Here we have 4.5 million people who contributed to science,” notes Waldispühl. “In a sense, this result is theirs too, and they should feel proud about it.” Gamers have made considerable progress in understanding the evolutionary links inside the human gut microbiome by aligning bacteria species’ genomic sequences.

Borderlands Science: a game-changing initiative for DNA analysis

Borderlands Science’s games have transformed DNA analysis, outperforming existing computational systems. “We didn’t know whether the players of a popular game like Borderlands 3 would be interested or whether the results would be good enough to improve on what was already known about microbial evolution,” Waldispühl goes on to say. “But we’ve been amazed by the results.” This collaborative effort not only improves our understanding of microbial diversity, but it also lays the groundwork for future advances in DNA sequencing technology.

Using gamer-driven research to improve health and other areas

Gamer-driven research yields findings that go beyond the virtual world, with substantial consequences for human health and other areas. Researchers want to better understand the function of microbiota in a variety of health diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and neurological disorders, by understanding microbial evolutionary histories. “Because evolution is a great guide to function, having a better tree relating our microbes to one another gives us a more precise view of what they are doing within and around us,” emphasizes Rob Knight of the University of California, San Diego.

In the age of Borderlands Science, gamers have taken the lead in scientific discoveries, using the power of play to promote biomedical research. As this revolutionary program evolves, the collaboration between gamers and scientists promises to open up new avenues for studying the complexities of the microbial world and its impact on human health.

Source study: Nature Biotechnology—Improving microbial phylogeny with citizen science within a mass-market video game


Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Scientists use machine learning to begin understanding complex orangutan comm...

Tropical field and behavioral ecologist Wendy Erb explores the world of orangutans in Borneo's lush, emerald tropical peatland woods. Her mission? To comprehend the ...

Read More

Unraveling the layers and complexity of the great force of hate

Hate—what a loaded term, full of tremendous emotions and complicated connotations. But have you ever paused to consider what lies beneath the surface when ...

Read More

Explore nature this summer: Adventures in 8 of America’s most accessibl...

Summertime is the perfect time to hit the road and see some of the 63 magnificent national parks spread across the United States. However, ...

Read More

Unesco and Interpol launch a revolutionary virtual museum of stolen cultural ...

Unesco, the United Nations' cultural authority, collaborated with Interpol to build the world's first virtual museum dedicated to the issue of stolen cultural objects ...

Read More