First Virtual Maize Annotation Jamboree (March 10-12th, 2020)

Authors: Marcela Karey Tello-Ruiz, Cristina Fernandez-Marco and Doreen Ware

The 2020 Virtual Maize Annotation Jamboree (VMAJ) was organized as part of  the by Marcela Karey Tello-Ruiz (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory or CSHL) and Cristina F. Marco (DNALC CSHL) under the supervision of PI Doreen Ware (CSHL and USDA ARS).

The jamboree aims were: 1) identify and correct potential gene model errors in the draft B73 Zea mays V5 gene models, 2) train participants on the use of gene curation tools, and 3) establish a network of researchers and teaching faculty to support and implement genome annotation projects as Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). Among the 28 remote participants were 20  of the original travel awardees (10 female, 10 male) from 13 higher education institutions including 4 Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI), and the USDA ARS.

During the course of the jamboree, participants were trained on the use of gene curation tools,  whereby 686 genes were evaluated using the Gramene Gene Tree Visualizer and 42 genes reviewed in the Apollo B73+ gene editor. Surveys were conducted during the course of the jamboree to gather feedback to inform decisions for adapting the agenda, effect software modifications to the Gene Tree Visualizer, and collect performance metrics on understanding of the material before and after the training, as well as recommendations for jamboree improvement. Over 95% of survey respondents reported improved understanding of gene curation using the Gene Tree Visualizer and Apollo B73+ gene editor. As a follow up to the jamboree we have established monthly virtual meetings to share results, improve on the existing training material,  develop and support  student projects and CUREs. We also continue to host the maize annotation infrastructure (NAM Gene Tree Visualizer and Apollo B73+ server), weekly office hours, and a Slack instant messaging channel. 

We believe this first maize virtual jamboree will serve as a proof-of-concept for similar future community curation efforts to improve genomic annotations in maize, and other important crops, and provides an example of opportunities for remote learning in a virtual and diverse collaborative environment.

Looking to participate in the future? Please contact us through

Read the article featuring our virtual jamnboree in the CSHL News!

The event was jointly supported through funding from NSF IOS-1127112, MCB-1744001, IOS-1445025 and USDA ARS 8062-21000-041.

Zoom gallery view of participants on the final day of the VMAJ. From left to right and top to bottom: Arun Somwarpet-Seetharam, Cristina F. Marco, Kevin R. Ahern, Brit Moss, Aman Kaur, Adrienne Kleintop, Jianing Liu, Marcela Karey Tello-Ruiz, John Gray, Doreen Ware, Elly Porestky, Vincent Colantonio, Brian Zebosi, Singha Dhungana, Vivek Shrestha, Nancy Manchada, Raksha Singh, Usha Bhatta, and Ankita Abnave.


Participant institutions located on the map. Orange pins mark affiliations of awardees, and purple pins indicate organizers, instructors, speakers and guests.