Free, fast BLAST processing with friendly interface now available to faculty and their students

April 11, 2012

BLAST, the popular bioinformatics software, is now available to Purdue faculty and their students through a new graphical user interface running on Purdue’s DiaGrid distributed computing system. DiaGrid can make thousands of processors available at once for BLAST jobs — at no cost to Purdue users.

The web-based tool, called BLASTer, is nearing its official 1.0 release. A beta version has been available for testing for the past two months. Users can try it by visiting the BLASTer site at http://diagrid.hubzero.org/resources/blastgui.

Interested faculty, research staff and graduate students also are invited to learn more about and to try BLASTer at a hands-on workshop from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Room 1011 of Rawls Hall.

Participants are welcome to bring their laptops and input files for sequences they wish to examine while learning to use BLASTer at the workshop. ITaP support staff will be available to assist users in getting started with the BLASTer tool. Refreshments will be provided.

Registration is free. Unregistered participants are welcome, but organizers are asking people to register so enough refreshments can be ordered.

ITaP introduced BLAST on DiaGrid in December 2011 and developed BLASTer based on user feedback. The tool is hosted on the DiaGrid hub at http://diagrid.hubzero.org/, which is built on Purdue’s HUBzero platform. HUBzero, http://hubzero.org/, brings computational research software and access to high-performance and cloud computing as close as the Web browser.

BLAST (it stands for Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) is widely used for studying biological sequence information, such as the amino acid chains that make up protein molecules or DNA sequences.

“DiaGrid is particularly suited for research using large scale BLAST searches because it involves numerous serial computations that can be parceled out to any number of available processors,” says Carol Song, senior research scientist at the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing, ITaP’s research computing unit. “Generally, the more processors the better, and DiaGrid can make thousands of processors available at a time.”

DiaGrid taps idle processors in offices, student computer labs, cluster supercomputers and more. It is based on the Condor distributed computing system, which works by pooling machines over the Purdue campus network and off campus via the Internet and fast research networks.

Writer: Greg Kline, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-494-8167 (office), 765-426-8545 (cell), gkline@purdue.edu

Originally posted: April 11, 2012