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The first public nucleotide sequence database turns 25

Today EMBL-Bank, the nucleotide sequence database of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), celebrates its 25th anniversary.

It was the world’s earliest public database of DNA and RNA sequences and remains Europe’s primary nucleotide sequence resource. The database is maintained by EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton (UK) in collaboration with its US and Japanese counterparts GenBank and the DNA Databank of Japan.

EBI Associate Director Graham Cameron commented: “In the early days, databases were an adjunct to scientific publications and sequences were transcribed from the literature. Times have moved on. The databases are now the primary record for high-throughput science. We and our partners in Japan and the USA are custodians of that record, and proud of the long-standing collaboration which has kept all of the data available to scientists worldwide.”

Over the years EMBL-Bank has grown exponentially and currently contains over 96 million entries corresponding to 170 gigabases of sequence from over 280.000 organisms. New sequences are submitted at a rate of more than one sequence every two seconds and the database receives millions of accesses every day.

Today, half an hour at the computer can suggest a function for a new gene – a task that might previously have occupied a researcher for a year. In future, connections to diverse data from new high-throughput methods will help create an information space crucial to interdisciplinary systems biology.

Tags: Anniversary, data, data sharing, database, Interdisciplinary research, Systems biology

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Picture of the week

The nucleus of this cell fluoresces in bright green thanks to GFP-labelled nucleoporin proteins. EMBL scientists use engineered nucleoporins as 3D reference standards to improve super-resolution microscopy.

By  Ivy Kupec

Microscopic image of a cell, nucleus visible in bright green, cell membrane stained with a purple dye against black background.

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