Genomic data sharing via BitTorrent, part 2 – BioTorrents to BitTorious

As someone who uses sequence data for most of my research,  I am continually happy with the fact that sequencing continues to get cheaper and easier and faster and bigger and better and more and more and more.  Along with such continued advances, sharing the data produced by such sequencing has become somewhat challenging at times.  A few years ago, Morgan Langille, who was a post doc in my lab at the time, proposed the use of BitTorrent file sharing tools for sharing biological data, such as sequence data.  He called the system for this “Biotorrents” and built some tools associated with the idea.  For more about this, see:

But alas, Morgan got one of those faculty job things, and, well, keeping up with the idea and the service was not easy.

Thus I am glad someone else has picked up the BitTorrent for Biology torch: BMC Bioinformatics | Abstract | BitTorious: global controlled genomics data publication, research and archiving via BitTorrent extensions.  Not sure how well this will work or how many people will use it, but it seems to me that there are many possible benefits from BitTorrent that still could be explored for biology.

3 thoughts on “Genomic data sharing via BitTorrent, part 2 – BioTorrents to BitTorious

  1. I think this is certainly cool work… but I have to say that the Abstract was one of the most dense and jargon heavy pieces I’ve read in a long time. Might be nice to be a bit more accessible.

    “However, as interoperability pains in EHR/EMR, HIE and other collaboration-centric life sciences domains have taught us, the core challenge of networking genomics systems is not in the construction of individual silos, but the interoperability of those deployments in a manner embracing the heterogeneous needs, terms and infrastructure of collaborating parties.”

    1. Yes, hence why I did not write about their paper. I was trying to supervise my kids while writing this and could not get past the abstract. Our Biotorrents article, I believe, was more accessible …

  2. @Jonathan,

    Thanks for the note/feedback! I remember reading your biotorrents paper a while back. This has been in the works for a while and we are planning a follow-up this spring/summer with a number of “big data”-centric features on the client-side, as well, that deviate from the existing BEP protocols. This is in active development, so if you have suggestions, please file a ticket at the GitHub repository.


Leave a Reply

Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. My lab is in the UC Davis Genome Center and I hold appointments in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences. My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis (see my lab site here which has more information on lab activities).  In addition to research, I am heavily involved in the Open Access publishing and Open Science movements.