The Plant Ontology: A common reference ontology for plants

In Proceedings of the Workshop on Bio-Ontologies, ISMB, Boston, July, 2010 (2010)
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The Plant Ontology (PO) ( (Jaiswal et al., 2005; Avraham et al., 2008) was designed to facilitate cross-database querying and to foster consistent use of plant-specific terminology in annotation. As new data are generated from the ever-expanding list of plant genome projects, the need for a consistent, cross-taxon vocabulary has grown. To meet this need, the PO is being expanded to represent all plants. This is the first ontology designed to encompass anatomical structures as well as growth and developmental stages across such a broad taxonomic range. While other ontologies such as the Gene Ontology (GO) (The Gene Ontology Consortium, 2010) or Cell Type Ontology (CL) (Bard et al., 2005) cover all living organisms, they are confined to structures at the cellular level and below. The diversity of growth forms and life histories within plants presents a challenge, but also provides unique opportunities to study developmental and evolutionary homology across organisms.

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Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo


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