|Improving collaboration by standardization efforts in systems biology.
|Year of Publication
|A. Dräger; B.Ø. Palsson
|PLoS Comput Biol
|Collaborative genome-scale reconstruction endeavors of metabolic networks would not be possible without a common, standardized formal representation of these systems. The ability to precisely define biological building blocks together with their dynamic behavior has even been considered a prerequisite for upcoming synthetic biology approaches. Driven by the requirements of such ambitious research goals, standardization itself has become an active field of research on nearly all levels of granularity in biology. In addition to the originally envisaged exchange of computational models and tool interoperability, new standards have been suggested for an unambiguous graphical display of biological phenomena, to annotate, archive, as well as to rank models, and to describe execution and the outcomes of simulation experiments. The spectrum now even covers the interaction of entire neurons in the brain, three-dimensional motions, and the description of pharmacometric studies. Thereby, the mathematical description of systems and approaches for their (repeated) simulation are clearly separated from each other and also from their graphical representation. Minimum information definitions constitute guidelines and common operation protocols in order to ensure reproducibility of findings and a unified knowledge representation. Central database infrastructures have been established that provide the scientific community with persistent links from model annotations to online resources. A rich variety of open-source software tools thrives for all data formats, often supporting a multitude of programing languages. Regular meetings and workshops of developers and users lead to continuous improvement and ongoing development of these standardization efforts. This article gives a brief overview about the current state of the growing number of operation protocols, mark-up languages, graphical descriptions, and fundamental software support with relevance to systems biology.