Deploying big data to crack the genotype to phenotype code

Erica L. Westerman, Sarah E.J. Bowman, Bradley Davidson, Marcus C. Davis, Eric R. Larson, Christopher P.J. Sanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mechanistically connecting genotypes to phenotypes is a longstanding and central mission of biology. Deciphering these connections will unite questions and datasets across all scales from molecules to ecosystems. Although high-throughput sequencing has provided a rich platform on which to launch this effort, tools for deciphering mechanisms further along the genome to phenome pipeline remain limited. Machine learning approaches and other emerging computational tools hold the promise of augmenting human efforts to overcome these obstacles. This vision paper is the result of a Reintegrating Biology Workshop, bringing together the perspectives of integrative and comparative biologists to survey challenges and opportunities in cracking the genotype to phenotype code and thereby generating predictive frameworks across biological scales. Key recommendations include promoting the development of minimum “best practices” for the experimental design and collection of data; fostering sustained and long-term data repositories; promoting programs that recruit, train, and retain a diversity of talent; and providing funding to effectively support these highly cross-disciplinary efforts. We follow this discussion by highlighting a few specific transformative research opportunities that will be advanced by these efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-396
Number of pages12
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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