First ‘green’ BYOD yet another successful Bring Your Own Data workshop

The first “green genetics” Bring Your Own Data (BYOD) party took place on 21 and 22 January 2015, and was organised by the Virtual Lab for Plant Breeding foundation (VLBP), the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (DTL) and ELIXIR. Bernard de Geus, director of the VLPB foundation, is very happy with the results. “VLPB strongly supports collaboration and sharing and exchange of best and worst practices. This green BYOD was an excellent means to achieve this goal, and a huge success. The participants spoke highly of the extremely productive atmosphere of the workshop.”

The central question driving this BYOD was: genebanks are important suppliers of genetics resources to the research and breeding community, therefore access to results of genomics and phenotyping will allow genebank users to better select genetic material for their breeding and scientific programs (Finkers et al, 2014). A technology that can effectively link data sources across different actors and disciplines is essential to make this happen, and the approach chosen by the FAIR Data community offers the solution needed. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable, which ultimately means that (meta) data should be computer processable to obtain improved interoperability and knowledge discovery.

IMGP4779During the BYOD, international experts on FAIR data worked closely together with data providers of the Centre for Genetic Resources, The Netherlands (CGN), Wageningen UR Plant Breeding and two plant breeding companies (Enza Zaden B.V. and Rijk Zwaan). The BYOD focused on four datasets: 1) Passport data, describing the CGN tomato collection; 2) Phenotypic observations of this collection; 3) Variants (SNP and INDEL) from the 150 tomato genome re-sequencing project, which includes accessions from the CGN and 4) the positions of these variants on the tomato genome. At the end of the workshop, it was possible to combine results from these datasets in a single query. This was possible because data owners, biologists and data formatting and interlinking experts got the chance to spend a considerable amount of time together. De Geus: “What I learned from this is that the DTL/ELIXIR BOYD concept is a great tool to select priorities, articulate specific challenges, and to test and discuss solutions and prototypes in a live and vibrant environment. Such an agile process is of great importance for VLPB members and associated members, and we look forward to collaborate with DTL/ELIXIR to co-organise more BYOD workshops.”


Together with the participants of the BYOD, Wageningen UR will continue to work on the outcome of this event; for example, they plan to write a paper together. Furthermore, they are currently building a demonstration application in which users will be able to select germplasm in the genebank, not only on the basis of phenotypic information, but also utilizing the available genotypic data. Together with lessons learned during the BYOD and the concept of FAIR Data and the FAIRport, this application will be demonstrated on the SME elixir Innovation and SME Forum: Data-driven innovation in the agri-food industries, on 18 & 19 March 2015, in Wageningen.