DNA sonification for public engagement in bioinformatics

Heleen Plaisier, Thomas Robert Meagher, Daniel Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Visualisation methods, primarily color-coded representation of sequence data, have been a predominant means of representation of DNA data. Algorithmic conversion of DNA sequence data to sound – sonification – represents an alternative means of representation that uses a different range of human sensory perception. We propose that sonification has value for public engagement with DNA sequence information because it has potential to be entertaining as well as informative. We conduct preliminary work to explore the potential of DNA sequence sonification in public engagement with bioinformatics. We apply a simple sonification technique for DNA, in which each DNA base is represented by a specific note. Additionally, a beat may be added to indicate codon boundaries or for musical effect. We report a brief analysis from public engagement events we conducted that featured this method of sonification.

Results: We report on use of DNA sequence sonification at two public events. Sonification has potential in public engagement with bioinformatics, both as a means of data representation and as a means to attract audience to a drop-in stand. We also discuss further directions for research on integration of sonification into bioinformatics public engagement and education.
Original languageEnglish
Article number273
Number of pages4
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


  • Bioinformatics
  • Sonification
  • DNA
  • Sequence
  • Public engagement
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Sonic Pi


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