In front of UNIL, the University of Lausanne, stands an old oak tree. It was planted by Napoleon on his way to conquer Italy – or so the story goes. Today, it is a subject of study by the department of genetics, and they needed a website to share their data with the public.

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Supported by funds from the Swiss Agora initiative and conceived by researchers at the University of Lausanne, this project aims to involve the public in decoding the DNA of the old oak tree at the heart of the Dorigny campus. (Napoleon + Genome = Napoleome. It works better in French. Honest.)

As a tree grows old and its genes mutate, its DNA changes. Samples taken from different branches of the tree should show varying rates of mutation depending on their age. To communicate these ideas we built an interactive 3D model of the Napoleon oak in WebGL from a high resolution point scan. Researchers can 'tag' parts of the model with the results of their analyses.

Interactive 3D model, try to click and drag...

The objective is to share some fundamental ideas about how genetics work, spark discussion about gene sequencing. Napoleome is therefore a unique scientific project that is open to all. The project has generated quite a lot of interest, including being written about in Le Temps.

Napoleome's 3D oak model and results page

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