Issue No.06 - November/December (2009 vol.15)
pp: 897-904
Tamara Munzner , University of British Columbia
Hanspeter Pfister , Harvard University
In the field of comparative genomics, scientists seek to answerquestions about evolution and genomic function by comparing thegenomes of species to find regions of shared sequences. Conservedsyntenic blocks are an important biological data abstraction for indicating regions of shared sequences. The goal of this work is to show multiple types of relationships at multiple scales in a way thatis visually comprehensible in accordance with known perceptual principles. We present a task analysis for this domain where thefundamental questions asked by biologists can be understood by a characterization of relationships into the four types of proximity/location, size, orientation, and similarity/strength, andthe four scales of genome, chromosome, block, and genomic feature. We also propose a new taxonomy of the design space for visually encoding conservation data. We present MizBee, a multiscale synteny browser with the unique property of providing interactive side-by-side views of the data across the range of scales supporting exploration of all of these relationship types. We conclude with case studies from two biologists who used MizBee to augment their previous automatic analysis work flow, providing anecdotal evidence about the efficacy ofthe system for the visualization of syntenic data, the analysis of conservation relationships, and the communication of scientific insights.
Information visualization, design study, bioinformatics, synteny.
Tamara Munzner, Hanspeter Pfister, "MizBee: A Multiscale Synteny Browser", IEEE Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics, vol.15, no. 6, pp. 897-904, November/December 2009, doi:10.1109/TVCG.2009.167
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