Biotech Updates

Facebook Game to Save Dying Ash Trees

August 22, 2013

To help save the dying ash tree, scientists from the Sainsbury Laboratory hired a gaming company to develop "Fraxinus", a Facebook game using real genetic data from the fungus which causes the Chalara ash dieback, and from the common ash, Fraxinus excelsior.

Fraxinus involves matching and rearranging patterns of colored leaf shapes which represent nucleotides. The scientists believe that people are better at this than computers alone, because the human eye can recognize patterns that computers miss. By playing Fraxinus, the public helps find clues about the diversity of the ash dieback fungus, and how it causes such devastating disease.

Dan MacLean, a scientist from the Sainsbury Laboratory who conceived the idea said, "Each play of the game will contribute a small but useful analysis. The more people who play it, the more accurate the results will be for us and the quicker we can generate the information needed to help our woodlands recover from the current epidemic."

For more information about Fraxinus, read the news release available at: