Annotation for Amateurs

Learn How to Annotate Genes!

Gene Annotation

Anyone can annotate genes. This site is designed to teach users the basics of gene annotation and provides access to several plant genomes which can be annotated. Once you learn to annotate genes you too can submit proposed annotations that will be evaluated by professionals. If your annotation is accepted it will be added to the appropriate genome database! Below are a list of questions and answers that explain more about this site and what you might find here.

Who is the web site designed for?

This web-based module is specifically designed for use by high school biology programs, but anyone can use it to learn gene annotation skills and to submit proposed annotations. If you are a high school biology teacher or student, please follow the links on the left side of this page to learn more and get started annotating genes. If you are not affiliated with a high school biology program, no problem. Everyone is welcome to use this site to learn the basics of gene annotation. Feel free to submit your proposed annotations as well.

What is Gene Annotation?

Many organisms have had their entire genome sequenced, however this is not the end of a genome project. Annotation is the process by which pertinent information about these raw DNA sequences is added to the genome databases. This involves describing different regions of the code and identifying which regions can be called genes.

The diagram below represents a tiny fragment of DNA, a single hypothetical gene. Notice that there are various parts within the gene. Some of these parts will code for a protein, others contain regulatory information, some will not be translated and their function is still unclear.

One important aspect of annotation is identifying which parts of a genome are transcribed into mRNA. Obviously computer programs are essential to this process, however, human brains are often required to evaluate computer-generated gene models. To learn more, investigate the links on the top left side of this page or click here.

How should I use this site?

The student section of this site contains a series of seven activities designed as a tutorial to help anyone learn how to annotate gene structures. Many concepts are defined in the tutorial and opportunities to practice using the Annotation Tool are provided. External links to other instructional websites are also provided as additional resources. There are self-quizzes at the end of the first four activities to provide the learner with some feedback about their progress.

Teachers can find ideas for using the tutorial in their science classes by following the Teachers section. Learning goals and information about what students should know before attempting to annotate are posted in this section. There are are also worksheet masters for some activities and copies of the online quizzes available.

The list of incongruent gene predictions from AtGDB is provided as a quick start for those individuals who have learned to annotate and are ready to contribute an annotation. Information about this list is provided in the student section tutorial activities.

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