Image via PLoS ONE
The biology of plants is complex, with scientists needing to study different types of information at different levels simultaneously to get a complete picture. That is why a group of researchers have created ePlant, a brilliant project that displays information in 3D. And even better, it is open source, so anyone can contribute information or improve the display so that everyone can benefit. Check out how it works.ePlant provides 3D visualization of different sets of information, including the genetic data for plant expression, tissue expression, interactors and a 3D protein model among others.
According to their report published in PLoS ONE, "Visualization tools for biological data are often limited in their ability to interactively integrate data at multiple scales. These computational tools are also typically limited by two-dimensional displays and programmatic implementations that require separate configurations for each of the user's computing devices and recompilation for functional expansion... The ePlant framework is accessed entirely through a web browser, and is therefore platform-independent. It can be applied to any model organism."
The researchers noted that humans have evolved to understand information in three dimensions, and that utilizing three dimensions is important to all fields of biology. So it only follows that a 3D database of information should be available for everyone to use. ePlant uses an open-source platform for everything from community development to 3D rendering.
The tool is interesting, and anyone is welcome to dive in and start using it since it is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
We love open-source resources like this, especially those created for scientists. The more we all can participate in understanding the natural world and working collaboratively together, the better change we have of making strides in conservation.
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