Genetic data collected from infected trees in Ashwellthorpe wood in Norfolk will be posted on the Sainsbury Laboratory website this Friday at the new OpenAshDieback site, with the aim of finding out what makes the fungus that causes dieback attack the ash – and the best methods to halt or slow its spread.
Prof Sophien Kamoun, the head of the Sainsbury Laboratory, which is doing the work jointly with the John Innes Centre in Norfolk, said that scientific emergencies such as ash dieback made standard methods – where publication is peer-reviewed in secret and eventually published – too slow to be useful.
"I do have a beef with the way that research is typically done," Kamoun said. "Scientists do genome sequencing but then hold onto it until it's formally published. This isn't appropriate in an emergency. Open sourcing the understanding of data in this way is totally adapted to the age of the internet."