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Donitz J.,Johann Friedrich Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology | Donitz J.,University of Gottingen | Grossmann D.,Johann Friedrich Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology | Schild I.,Johann Friedrich Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

In a morphological ontology the expert's knowledge is represented in terms, which describe morphological structures and how these structures relate to each other. With the assistance of ontologies this expert knowledge is made processable by machines, through a formal and standardized representation of terms and their relations to each other. The red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, a representative of the most species rich animal taxon on earth (the Coleoptera), is an emerging model organism for development, evolution, physiology, and pest control. In order to foster Tribolium research, we have initiated the Tribolium Ontology (TrOn), which describes the morphology of the red flour beetle. The content of this ontology comprises so far most external morphological structures as well as some internal ones. All modeled structures are consistently annotated for the developmental stages larva, pupa and adult. In TrOn all terms are grouped into three categories: Generic terms represent morphological structures, which are independent of a developmental stage. In contrast, downstream of such terms are concrete terms which stand for a dissectible structure of a beetle at a specific life stage. Finally, there are mixed terms describing structures that are only found at one developmental stage. These terms combine the characteristics of generic and concrete terms with features of both. These annotation principles take into account the changing morphology of the beetle during development and provide generic terms to be used in applications or for cross linking with other ontologies and data resources. We use the ontology for implementing an intuitive search function at the electronic iBeetle-Base, which stores morphological defects found in a genome wide RNA interference (RNAi) screen. The ontology is available for download at http://ibeetle-base.uni-goettingen.de. © 2013 Dönitz et al. Source

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