Background: Wiki technology has become a ubiquitous mechanism for dissemination of information, and places strong emphasis on collaboration. We aimed to leverage wiki technology to allow small groups of researchers to collaborate around a specific domain, for example a biological pathway. Automatically gathered seed data could be modified by the group and enriched with domain specific information.
Results: We describe a software system, BioKb, implemented as a plugin for the TWiki engine, and designed to facilitate construction of a field-specific wiki containing collaborative and automatically generated content. Features of this system include: query of publicly available resources such as KEGG, iHOP and MeSH, to generate 'seed' content for topics; simple definition of structure for topics of different types via an administration page; and interactive incorporation of relevant PubMed references. An exemplar is shown for the use of this system, in the creation of the RAASWiki knowledgebase on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). RAASWiki has been seeded with data by use of BioKb, and will be the subject of ongoing development into an extensive knowledgebase on the RAAS.
Conclusion: The BioKb system is available from http://www.bioinf.mvm.ed.ac.uk/twiki/bin/view/TWiki/BioKbPlugin as a plugin for the TWiki engine.