The Grassroots Infrastructure project aims to create an easily-deployable suite of computing middleware tools to help users and developers gain access to scientific data infrastructure that can easily be interconnected.

With the data-generative approaches that are increasingly common in modern life science research, it is vital that the data and metadata produced by these efforts can be shared and reused. The Grassroots Infrastructure project wraps up industry-standard software tools with a consistent API that can be federated on a number of levels. This means institutions and groups can deploy a simple lightweight virtual machine, expose local data, connect up any existing data services, and federate their instance of the Grassroots with others out-of-the-box.

The Grassroots Infrastructure uses a controlled vocabulary of JSON messages to communicate, so any server or client that can understand JSON can be used to access and connect to the platform. We provide infrastructure to ensure that the scientific data remains the important factor, and not the worry about how to build a system to expose your data.


The Grassroots Infrastructure has been developed to expose a number of important and powerful technologies that can benefit researchers and developers to realise their data management needs.

Existing services:


As well as providing services, the Grassroots infrastructure also has the ability to host data. Building upon iRODS as a data management solution, we have added a number of features such as a search service and a fully featured web interface, using mod_eirods_dav, for accessing the data and metadata. Currently it is used to host the Designing Future Wheat Data Portal.


Designing Future Wheat:

Grassroots has traditionally been the result of an effort to produce an interoperable data sharing platform for the wheat community. Whilst Grassroots is by no means organism-specific, our main use cases come from the wheat community. We get most of our community feedback from plant researchers at the Earlham Institute, John Innes Centre, Bristol University, Rothamsted Research and other UK institutions, as well as from various international wheat working groups such as the RDA Wheat Data Interoperability maintenance group and the Wheat Initiative Wheat Information System expert working group. The newly awarded cross-institute programme grant, Delivering Sustainable Wheat (DSW) and its predecessor Designing Future Wheat (DFW), are flagship projects to bring the UK’s wheat researchers together to deliver new varieties relevant to the international stage, through the coordinated effort of biologists, breeders, and informaticians. As such, Grassroots is funded by the DSW programme, enabling us to build a platform that can meet the needs of not only this ambitious programme, but the wider UK and international wheat community that needs fast and openly-licenced unfettered access to the data and experimental information arising from DFW.

How to cite us:

If you have used any of the services that Grassroots provides in your own research, we would very much appreciate that you let us know and cite us in any publications, as follows:

Bian. X, Tyrrell. S, Olvera. D, Davey R.P. The Grassroots life science data infrastructure (2017).

Contact us

If you have any queries, please email the Grassroots Helpdesk


The author(s) acknowledge the support of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation; this research was funded by the BBSRC Designing Future Wheat grant BB/P016855/1 and its constituent work packages(BBS/E/T/000PR9783 (DFW WP4 Data Access and Analysis) BBS/E/T/000PR9784 (DFW WP2 Added value and resilience) BBS/E/T/000PR9785 (DFW WP1 Increased efficiency and sustainability), Cross Institute Strategic Programme Grant Delivering Sustainable Wheat BBX011003/1 and its constituent work packages BBS/E/ER/230003A (DSW WP1 Targeted Sustainability-Trait Discovery), BBS/E/ER/230003B (DSW WP2 Delivering Resilience to Biotic Stress), BBS/E/ER/230003C (DSW WP4 Sustainable Data Frameworks for Wheat) and Core Capability Grants BB/CCG1720/1 and BB/CCG2220/1 and the work delivered via the BBSRC National Capability in e‐Infrastructure (BBS/E/T/000PR9814) at the Earlham Institute by members of the e‐Infrastructure group.