The Comparative Data Analysis Ontology

Description: The objective of this project is to develop an ontology for the description of information relevant to experiments in evolutionary biology. A practical example of comparative analysis would be inferring the locations of genes and regulatory sites in the human genome by comparing it with the chimp and mouse genomes. When comparative analysis is done within an evolutionary framework, it becomes "evolutionary comparative analysis": the items to be compared are treated as homologs that have evolved along paths of common descent (represented by a tree) according to dynamics that reflect an evolutionary process of change. Various types of biological traits (molecular, morphological, behavioral) can be analyzed in this way. Thus, evolutionary comparative analysis involves distinctive concepts regarding homologous "characters" (the "same" trait as represented in different species), phylogenetic histories, and models of state-transitions of characters. To accomodate diverse types of characters, we will import concepts from other ontologies (e.g., amino acids from an amino acid ontology). The ontology is being developed by a small team of scientists in the context of the Evolutionary Informatics working group at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (team members include Julie Thompson, Enrico Pontelli, Francisco Prosdocimi, and Brandon Chisham). The working group has a project wiki at The draft ontology, in OWL format, is described and available at

Institution: NMSU, NIST, University of Strasbourg

Contacts: Arlin Stoltzfus, Julie Thompson, Francisco Prosdocimi, Brandon Chisham, Enrico Pontelli

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Ontologies Used

No ontologies are currently associated with this project