The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) is an open-membership community that was founded in 2005 to work towards the development, implementation and harmonization of standards in the field of genomics. Starting with the defined task of establishing a minimal set of descriptions the GSC has evolved into an active standards-setting body that currently has 18 ongoing projects, with additional projects regularly proposed from within and outside the GSC. Here we describe our recently enacted policy for proposing new activities that are intended to be taken on by the GSC, along with the template for proposing such new activities.
Microbial genome sequence submissions to the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC) have been annotated with organism names that include the strain identifier. Each of these strain-level names has been assigned a unique ‘taxid’ in the NCBI Taxonomy Database. With the significant growth in genome sequencing, it is not possible to continue with the curation of strain-level taxids. In January 2014, NCBI will cease assigning strain-level taxids. Instead, submitters are encouraged provide strain information and rich metadata with their submission to the sequence database, BioProject and BioSample.
The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena) is a repository for the world public domain nucleotide sequence data output. ENA content covers a spectrum of data types including raw reads, assembly data and functional annotation. ENA has faced a dramatic growth in genome assembly submission rates, data volumes and complexity of datasets. This has prompted a broad reworking of assembly submission services, for which we now reach the end of a major programme of work and many enhancements have already been made available over the year to components of the submission service. In this article, we briefly review ENA content and growth over 2013, describe our rapidly developing services for genome assembly information and outline further major developments over the last year.
Metagenomics is a relatively recently established but rapidly expanding field that uses high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies to characterize the microbial communities inhabiting different ecosystems (including oceans, lakes, soil, tundra, plants and body sites). Metagenomics brings with it a number of challenges, including the management, analysis, storage and sharing of data. In response to these challenges, we have developed a new metagenomics resource (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/metagenomics/) that allows users to easily submit raw nucleotide reads for functional and taxonomic analysis by a state-of-the-art pipeline, and have them automatically stored (together with descriptive, standards-compliant metadata) in the European Nucleotide Archive.
The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena/) collects, maintains and presents comprehensive nucleic acid sequence and related information as part of the permanent public scientific record. Here, we provide brief updates on ENA content developments and major service enhancements in 2012 and describe in more detail two important areas of development and policy that are driven by ongoing growth in sequencing technologies. First, we describe the ENA data warehouse, a resource for which we provide a programmatic entry point to integrated content across the breadth of ENA. Second, we detail our plans for the deployment of CRAM data compression technology in ENA.
The International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC; http://www.insdc.org), one of the longest-standing global alliances of biological data archives, captures, preserves and provides comprehensive public domain nucleotide sequence information. Three partners of the INSDC work in cooperation to establish formats for data and metadata and protocols that facilitate reliable data submission to their databases and support continual data exchange around the world. In this article, the INSDC current status and update for the year of 2012 are presented. Among discussed items of international collaboration meeting in 2012, BioSample database and changes in submission are described as topics.
At the GSC11 meeting (4-6 April 2011, Hinxton, England, the GSC’s genomic biodiversity working group (GBWG) developed an initial model for a data management testbed at the interface of biodiversity with genomics and metagenomics. With representatives of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) participating, it was agreed that the most useful course of action would be for GBIF to collaborate with the GSC in its ongoing GBWG workshops to achieve common goals around interoperability/data integration across (meta)-genomic and species level data. It was determined that a quick comparison should be made of the contents of the Darwin Core (DwC) and the GSC data checklists, with a goal of determining their degree of overlap and compatibility. An ad-hoc task group lead by Renzo Kottman and Peter Dawyndt undertook an initial comparison between the Darwin Core (DwC) standard used by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the MIxS checklists put forward by the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC). A term-by-term comparison showed that DwC and GSC concepts complement each other far more than they compete with each other. Because the preliminary analysis done at this meeting was based on expertise with GSC standards, but not with DwC standards, the group recommended that a joint meeting of DwC and GSC experts be convened as soon as possible to continue this joint assessment and to propose additional work going forward.
Archives operating under the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration currently preserve all submitted sequences equally, but rapid increases in the rate of global sequence production will soon require differentiated treatment of DNA sequences submitted for archiving. Here, we propose a graded system in which the ease of reproduction of a sequencing-based experiment and the relative availability of a sample for resequencing define the level of lossy compression applied to stored data.
DNA; Sequence; Archive; Compression; Storage; Image
Here we present a standard developed by the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) for reporting marker gene sequences—the minimum information about a marker gene sequence (MIMARKS). We also introduce a system for describing the environment from which a biological sample originates. The ‘environmental packages’ apply to any genome sequence of known origin and can be used in combination with MIMARKS and other GSC checklists. Finally, to establish a unified standard for describing sequence data and to provide a single point of entry for the scientific community to access and learn about GSC checklists, we present the minimum information about any (x) sequence (MIxS). Adoption of MIxS will enhance our ability to analyze natural genetic diversity documented by massive DNA sequencing efforts from myriad ecosystems in our ever-changing biosphere.
The members of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC; http://www.insdc.org) set out to capture, preserve and present globally comprehensive public domain nucleotide sequence information. The work of the long-standing collaboration includes the provision of data formats, annotation conventions and routine global data exchange. Among the many developments to INSDC resources in 2011 are the newly launched BioProject database and improved handling of assembly information. In this article, we outline INSDC services and update the reader on developments in 2011.
The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena), Europe's primary nucleotide sequence resource, captures and presents globally comprehensive nucleic acid sequence and associated information. Covering the spectrum from raw data to assembled and functionally annotated genomes, the ENA has witnessed a dramatic growth resulting from advances in sequencing technology and ever broadening application of the methodology. During 2011, we have continued to operate and extend the broad range of ENA services. In particular, we have released major new functionality in our interactive web submission system, Webin, through developments in template-based submissions for annotated sequences and support for raw next-generation sequence read submissions.
A vast and rich body of information has grown up as a result of the world's enthusiasm for 'omics technologies. Finding ways to describe and make available this information that maximise its usefulness has become a major effort across the 'omics world. At the heart of this effort is the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), an open-membership organization that drives community-based standardization activities, Here we provide a short history of the GSC, provide an overview of its range of current activities, and make a call for the scientific community to join forces to improve the quality and quantity of contextual information about our public collections of genomes, metagenomes, and marker gene sequences.
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources; and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
The current 18th Database Issue of Nucleic Acids Research features descriptions of 96 new and 83 updated online databases covering various areas of molecular biology. It includes two editorials, one that discusses COMBREX, a new exciting project aimed at figuring out the functions of the ‘conserved hypothetical’ proteins, and one concerning BioDBcore, a proposed description of the ‘minimal information about a biological database’. Papers from the members of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database collaboration (INSDC) describe each of the participating databases, DDBJ, ENA and GenBank, principles of data exchange within the collaboration, and the recently established Sequence Read Archive. A testament to the longevity of databases, this issue includes updates on the RNA modification database, Definition of Secondary Structure of Proteins (DSSP) and Homology-derived Secondary Structure of Proteins (HSSP) databases, which have not been featured here in >12 years. There is also a block of papers describing recent progress in protein structure databases, such as Protein DataBank (PDB), PDB in Europe (PDBe), CATH, SUPERFAMILY and others, as well as databases on protein structure modeling, protein–protein interactions and the organization of inter-protein contact sites. Other highlights include updates of the popular gene expression databases, GEO and ArrayExpress, several cancer gene databases and a detailed description of the UK PubMed Central project. The Nucleic Acids Research online Database Collection, available at: http://www.oxfordjournals.org/nar/database/a/, now lists 1330 carefully selected molecular biology databases. The full content of the Database Issue is freely available online at the Nucleic Acids Research web site (http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/).
This report summarizes the proceedings of the first day of the Metagenomics, Metadata and MetaAnalysis (M3) workshop held at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology 2010 conference. The second day, which was dedicated to the inaugural meeting of the BioSharing initiative is presented in a separate report. The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) hosted the first day of this Special Interest Group (SIG) at ISMB to continue exploring the bottlenecks and emerging solutions for obtaining biological insights through large-scale comparative analysis of metagenomic datasets. The M3 SIG included invited and selected talks and a panel discussion at the end of the day involving the plenary speakers. Further information about the GSC and its range of activities can be found at http://gensc.org. Information about the newly established BioSharing effort can be found at http://biosharing.org/.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the one day BioSharing meeting held at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) 2010 conference in Boston, MA, USA This inaugural BioSharing event was hosted by the Genomic Standards Consortium as part of its M3 & BioSharing special interest group (SIG) workshop. The BioSharing event included invited talks from a range of community leaders and a panel discussion at the end of the day. The panel session led to the formal agreement among community leaders to join together to promote cross-community knowledge exchange and collaborations. A key focus of the newly formed Biosharing community will be linking up resources to promote real-world data sharing (virtuous cycle of data) and supporting compliance with data policies through the creation of a one-stop-portal of information. Further information about the newly established BioSharing effort can be found at http://biosharing.org.
Under the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (INSDC; http://www.insdc.org), globally comprehensive public domain nucleotide sequence is captured, preserved and presented. The partners of this long-standing collaboration work closely together to provide data formats and conventions that enable consistent data submission to their databases and support regular data exchange around the globe. Clearly defined policy and governance in relation to free access to data and relationships with journal publishers have positioned INSDC databases as a key provider of the scientific record and a core foundation for the global bioinformatics data infrastructure. While growth in sequence data volumes comes no longer as a surprise to INSDC partners, the uptake of next-generation sequencing technology by mainstream science that we have witnessed in recent years brings a step-change to growth, necessarily making a clear mark on INSDC strategy. In this article, we introduce the INSDC, outline data growth patterns and comment on the challenges of increased growth.
The present article proposes the adoption of a community-defined, uniform, generic description of the core attributes of biological databases, BioDBCore. The goals of these attributes are to provide a general overview of the database landscape, to encourage consistency and interoperability between resources and to promote the use of semantic and syntactic standards. BioDBCore will make it easier for users to evaluate the scope and relevance of available resources. This new resource will increase the collective impact of the information present in biological databases.
The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena) is Europe’s primary nucleotide-sequence repository. The ENA consists of three main databases: the Sequence Read Archive (SRA), the Trace Archive and EMBL-Bank. The objective of ENA is to support and promote the use of nucleotide sequencing as an experimental research platform by providing data submission, archive, search and download services. In this article, we outline these services and describe major changes and improvements introduced during 2010. These include extended EMBL-Bank and SRA-data submission services, extended ENA Browser functionality, support for submitting data to the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) through SRA, and the launch of a new sequence similarity search service.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the 8th meeting of the Genomic Standards Consortium held at the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, CA, USA on September 9-11, 2009. This three-day workshop marked the maturing of Genomic Standards Consortium from an informal gathering of researchers interested in developing standards in the field of genomic and metagenomics to an established community with a defined governance mechanism, its own open access journal, and a family of established standards for describing genomes, metagenomes and marker studies (i.e. ribosomal RNA gene surveys). There will be increased efforts within the GSC to reach out to the wider scientific community via a range of new projects. Further information about the GSC and its activities can be found at http://gensc.org/.
This report summarizes the M3 Workshop held at the January 2010 Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing. The workshop, organized by Genomic Standards Consortium members, included five contributed talks, a series of short presentations from stakeholders in the genomics standards community, a poster session, and, in the evening, an open discussion session to review current projects and examine future directions for the GSC and its stakeholders.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the “Metagenomics, Metadata and Meta-analysis” (M3) Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting held at the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology 2009 conference. The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) hosted this meeting to explore the bottlenecks and emerging solutions for obtaining biological insights through large-scale comparative analysis of metagenomic datasets. The M3 SIG included 16 talks, half of which were selected from submitted abstracts, a poster session and a panel discussion involving members of the GSC Board. This report summarizes this one-day SIG, attempts to identify shared themes and recapitulates community recommendations for the future of this field. The GSC will also host an M3 workshop at the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (PSB) in January 2010. Further information about the GSC and its range of activities can be found at http://gensc.org/.
Next generation sequencing platforms are producing biological sequencing data in unprecedented amounts. The partners of the International Nucleotide Sequencing Database Collaboration, which includes the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), and the DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ), have established the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) to provide the scientific community with an archival destination for next generation data sets. The SRA is now accessible at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Traces/sra from NCBI, at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena from EBI and at http://www.ddbj.nig.ac.jp/sub/trace_sra-e.html from DDBJ. Users of these resources can obtain data sets deposited in any of the three SRA instances. Links and submission instructions are provided.
The current issue of Nucleic Acids Research includes descriptions of 58 new and 73 updated data resources. The accompanying online Database Collection, available at http://www.oxfordjournals.org/nar/database/a/, now lists 1230 carefully selected databases covering various aspects of molecular and cell biology. While most data resource descriptions remain very brief, the issue includes several longer papers that highlight recent significant developments in such databases as Pfam, MetaCyc, UniProt, ELM and PDBe. The databases described in the Database Issue and Database Collection, however, are far more than a distinct set of resources; they form a network of connected data, concepts and shared technology. The full content of the Database Issue is available online at the Nucleic Acids Research web site (http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/).