Establishing a UK iPlant Collaborative Node, a programme between the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham, Liverpool and TGAC
The iPlant Collaborative is currently distributed across three US locations; we propose to extend this into an international collaboration by building a UK iPlant node at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC). TGAC provides the National Capability of computational infrastructure and as such is perfectly situated to provide the foundations for the iPlant UK node. The UK iPlant node would provide independent versions of the iPlant Data Store and Discovery Environment but would also be linked to the US nodes to share resources and expertise. Physical resource alone is not sufficient for a successful infrastructure: it also needs to be used, maintained and expanded as demand increases. To demonstrate the versatility, power and value of iPlant UK, a dedicated team of programmers based at the Universities of Warwick, Liverpool and Nottingham will adapt tools that have been generated for use in a single project for wider community adoption. Three suites of tools to benefit key areas of UK plant science – sequencing, systems biology and image analysis – will be made available to the global plant research community via the iPlantDiscovery Environment.
In less than 10 years, iPlant has built a global user base of over 18,500 users. As this continues to expand, iPlant’s future sustainability must be considered. A UK iPlant node will help ensure the future existence and reliability of iPlant, spread expertise and best practice between the UK and US, allow the UK to input to the future direction of this valuable resource and provide an exemplar project to others wishing to establish future international iPlant nodes.
By establishing iPlant UK and promoting access to a resource that allows users to readily store and analyse their data, this project will help support a wide range of research including genome-wide association projects exploiting natural variation in crops, predicting biological networks and pathways, and the high-throughput imaging and image analysis services that take researchers one step closer to bridging the genotype to phenotype gap.