IBM J. Res. Dev

Design of the MCAW compute service for food safety bioinformatics

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The techniques of microbe community genome sequencing as applied to environmental samples - metagenomics - offer powerful insight into microbial community structure and ecology that can affect food safety decisions for public health security. In this paper, the design and characteristics of a new informatics service, the Metagenomics Computation and Analytics Workbench (MCAW), are presented and illustrated with reference to the analysis of metagenomics data. The service is designed to meet the requirements for analyzing metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequence data to assess microbial hazards and food authentication in the supply chain. Moreover, MCAW provides for reliable storage and management of raw genomic sequences and analysis results, high-volume informatics processing, meticulous tracking of data provenance and processing steps, and function-rich visualization of results.