Ontology-driven analysis of marine metagenomics: what more can we learn from our data?

Kai Blumberg, Matthew Miller, Alise Ponsero, Bonnie Hurwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The proliferation of metagenomic sequencing technologies has enabled novel insights into the functional genomic potentials and taxonomic structure of microbial communities. However, cyberinfrastructure efforts to manage and enable the reproducible analysis of sequence data have not kept pace. Thus, there is increasing recognition of the need to make metagenomic data discoverable within machine-searchable frameworks compliant with the FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability) principles for data stewardship. Although a variety of metagenomic web services exist, none currently leverage the hierarchically structured terminology encoded within common life science ontologies to programmatically discover data. Results: Here, we integrate large-scale marine metagenomic datasets with community-driven life science ontologies into a novel FAIR web service. This approach enables the retrieval of data discovered by intersecting the knowledge represented within ontologies against the functional genomic potential and taxonomic structure computed from marine sequencing data. Our findings highlight various microbial functional and taxonomic patterns relevant to the ecology of prokaryotes in various aquatic environments. Conclusions: In this work, we present and evaluate a novel Semantic Web architecture that can be used to ask novel biological questions of existing marine metagenomic datasets. Finally, the FAIR ontology searchable data products provided by our API can be leveraged by future research efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbergiad088
StatePublished - 2023


  • FAIR data
  • RDF
  • metagenomics
  • microbial ecology
  • ontology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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