The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), an international initiative including representatives from a range of major sequencing and bioinformatics centres, has created a new guideline for describing genomes and metagenomes. The guideline, 'Minimum Information about a Genome Sequence' (MIGS), is published in the May issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.
The new guideline is one of a number of emerging minimum information (MI) standards. Increased use of ultra-high-throughput sequencing technologies has led to the number and pace of genomic and metagenomic sequencing projects growing rapidly. Common standards such as MIGS are therefore increasingly vital to scientific progress, as groups from around the world look to share their data.
According to lead author and founding member of the GSC, Dr. Dawn Field, of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, "MIGS is relatively easy to complete compared to other MI standards that are emerging. There is great enthusiasm in the community for this project and we are already collecting MIGS-compliant reports. We are a highly collaborative group and open to new participants joining the GSC at any time".
Prof. George M. Garrity, Michigan State University, USA, a co-author on the paper commented that "The MIGS specification comprises light-weight standard set descriptors that are applicable to all genome and metagenome sequences. The addition of this key information greatly enhances the value of the growing body of sequence data by making it more generally accessible and interoperable, at minimal cost to annotators and data curators"
The GSC started this project to remedy the lack of descriptive information currently attached to genome and metagenome sequences in public databases. This is particularly true for environmental samples, which are amassing at an astounding pace.
Co-author Prof. Dr. Frank Oliver Gloeckner, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Germany said "We have worked now for more than seven years in the field of marine environmental (meta)genomics. The MIGS specifications and standards will be a major step forward in discovering the secrets hidden in the genes of our environmental microorganisms".
The full paper reference is Field, D. et al. 2008. The minimum information about a genome sequence (MIGS) specification. Nature Biotechnology 26, 541 - 547. Published online: 8 May 2008 | doi:10.1038/nbt1360
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