An Integrated Korean Biodiversity and Genetic Information Retrieval System
BACKGROUND:On-line biodiversity information databases are growing quickly and being integrated into general bioinformatics systems due to the advances of fast gene sequencing technologies and the Internet. These can reduce the cost and effort of performing biodiversity surveys and genetic searches, which allows scientists to spend more time researching and less time collecting and maintaining data. This will cause an increased rate of knowledge build-up and improve conservations. The biodiversity databases in Korea have been scattered among several institutes and local natural history museums with incompatible data types. Therefore, a comprehensive database and a nation wide web portal for biodiversity information is necessary in order to integrate diverse information resources, including molecular and genomic databases.RESULTS:The Korean Natural History Research Information System (NARIS) was built and serviced as the central biodiversity information system to collect and integrate the biodiversity data of various institutes and natural history museums in Korea. This database aims to be an integrated resource that contains additional biological information, such as genome sequences and molecular level diversity. Currently, twelve institutes and museums in Korea are integrated by the DiGIR (Distributed Generic Information Retrieval) protocol, with Darwin Core2.0 format as its metadata standard for data exchange. Data quality control and statistical analysis functions have been implemented. In particular, integrating molecular and genetic information from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases with NARIS was recently accomplished. NARIS can also be extended to accommodate other institutes abroad, and the whole system can be exported to establish local biodiversity management servers.CONCLUSION:A Korean data portal, NARIS, has been developed to efficiently manage and utilize biodiversity data, which includes genetic resources. NARIS aims to be integral in maximizing bio-resource utilization for conservation, management, research, education, industrial applications, and integration with other bioinformation data resources. It can be found at http://www.naris.go.kr.