Sequence analysis – an old/new section in BMC Bioinformatics

The journal sections Sequence Analysis (methods) and Sequence Analysis (applications) in BMC Bioinformatics have been merged into one new section named Sequence Analysis. Here, the Section Editor of this new section, João C Setubal, and Alison Cuff, the in-house Editor for BMC Bioinformatics explain the rationale for this merge and give a brief, general review of the field.

Up to now, BMC Bioinformatics has had one sequence analysis section for methods and another for applications. While the original rationale for having two separate sections made sense at the time the journal was created, in practice we have observed considerable topic overlap between papers that have been published in these two sections. Moreover, from the point of view of evaluating a manuscript’s contribution, we came to the conclusion that the distinction between methods and applications was not really necessary.  The decision has therefore been made to merge these sections into one new section simply called Sequence Analysis.

Sequence analysis continues to be a vibrant field of research, fueled by the sustained exponential growth in DNA sequence generation. As examples we can cite some current large DNA sequencing-related projects and initiatives. Last year Thompson et al.  reported first results of the Earth Microbiome project, which is sequencing microbiomes in a diverse range of ecological niches. The Human Microbiome Project  on the other hand has been ongoing now for several years. Lewin et al. announced the Earth BioGenome Project earlier this year, which aims to sequence, catalog, and characterize the genomes of all of Earth’s eukaryotic biodiversity within 10 years. And on October 3rd this year, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care announced its plans to sequence five million human genomes in the UK over the next five years. These projects and initiatives highlight the continuing relevance of DNA sequencing in medicine as well as in understanding the Earth’s biodiversity, to name just two potential  areas of application.

In view of the consequent data deluge, the need to extract scientific as well as practical knowledge from this data is greater than ever. Further research into sequence analysis and novel associated programs and methods is consequently all the more important.

The UK Department of Health and Social Care has announced its plans to sequence five million human genomes in the UK over the next five years.

The scope of the new Sequence Analysis section reflects this merge: we look for high-quality manuscripts that present novel algorithms or software/workflows for topics such as sequence alignment, DNA fragment assembly, gene prediction, noncoding RNA detection and analysis, whole genome analysis, phylogeny and phylogenomics, taxonomy classification and genome recovery from metagenome data, among many other possible topics.

BMC Bioinformatics has other sections that have related scope, in particular Comparative Genomics, Transcriptome Analysis, and the recently launched Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Bioinformatics. Prospective authors of manuscripts that use DNA/RNA sequences or genomes as primary data may submit their work to the Sequence Analysis section, or to whichever section they consider most relevant for their work.

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