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Researchers from the University of Freiburg, together with those from universities in Belgium, Australia and the USA, have announced that they have reviewed the previously available data on sequences of the novel coronavirus and published their analyses on the open source platform Galaxy. With this, scientists will be able to analyze new COVID-19 datasets on public servers within hours after their release through the same workflows used to analyze the current data.

Dr. Wolfgang Maier and Dr. Björn Grüning from the University of Freiburg hope that this will facilitate the exchange of data between authorities, institutes and laboratories dealing with the virus. The Freiburg researchers have documented their approach and results on the bioRxiv portal.

The Galaxy platform is suitable for big data analysis in life sciences. Public servers provide scientists with free access to analysis tools and reproducible evaluation procedures. Maier, Grüning and their colleagues used Galaxy to re-analyze all publicly available COVID-19 genome data for their study. Previous publications often lacked transparency with regard to data analysis, explains Grüning.

Within a few days, the team was able to apply identical workflows to each of the available sequences and make them publicly accessible via Galaxy. As a result, researchers worldwide now have access to the network of Galaxy servers in Europe, the USA and Australia, not only for the evaluation of the data, but also as the scientific infrastructure for their own work with COVID-19 data.

The Galaxy project was initiated at Penn State University in the USA and further developed at the University of Freiburg in the Collaborative Research Centre “Medical Epigenetics” and as part of the German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure (de.NBI).

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