History of Demiurge

The data featured in population genetic papers are always processed in just one or a few of the many possible ways, largely due to the severe space constraints imposed by the journals themselves. Under this dissemination scheme, critically important and expensive molecular data irreversibly freeze under narrow conceptual moulds upon publication, and the associated genotype matrices remain ‘dormant’ (if they are not corrupted, or lost forever...) in the entrails of  computers scattered throughout the planet.

Thus, further applications of these invaluable data to (for instance), (i) estimate parameters not calculated in the published research, (ii) use approaches that do not exist today but will sure appear in the future, or (iii) enhance our understanding of evolutionary change through alternative analyses (or meta-analysis), are impeded by default.

Demiurge is a spinoff of the idea that, back in 2001, originated the Transformer project and has given rise to its latest version, Transformer-4 (T4). It seemed clear that a software platform like what today is T4 would pave the way to set up an information system that could fashion and maintain genotype matrices plus relevant ancillary information to disseminate and enhance our present understanding of biodiversity’s genetic diversity based on the existing (but often sparse and not easily accessible) data: a genetic diversity demiurge.

This basic concept was first explored through an international meeting organised in June 11-13 2007 by the Jardín Botánico Canario «Viera y Clavijo» - Unidad Asociada CSIC thanks to the funds provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science through an “Acción complementaria”. The participants in that meeting were rather supportive, and most of them are today part of the scientific steering committee of Demiurge.

After some time to raise consistent funds to reify that idea, Demiurge is now the first public web-based information system that follows GBIF standards of data interchange and structure to store genetic diversity digests (i.e., geo-referenced T4 genotype matrices for any organism and population genetic technique, plus relevant ancillary information relevant to their interpretation), and set the stage for unrestrained analyses and meta-analyses of these data.

We therefore conceived Demiurge to allow a fluid, creative use of the existent information on biodiversity's genetic diversity with the help of T4 capabilities. We believe that this web information system may also represent a very powerful resource for scientific journals, peer review, higher education, and public administrations.