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Answering biological questions: Querying a systems biology database for nutrigenomics

Author: Evelo, C.T. · Bochove, K. van · Saito, J.T.
Source:Genes and Nutrition, 1, 6, 81-87
Identifier: 428145
doi: doi:10.1007/s12263-010-0190-x
Keywords: Bioinformatics · Biological databases · Nutrigenomics · Querying · Systems biology · Life · MSB - Microbiology and Systems Biology · EELS - Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences


The requirement of systems biology for connecting different levels of biological research leads directly to a need for integrating vast amounts of diverse information in general and of omics data in particular. The nutritional phenotype database addresses this challenge for nutrigenomics. A particularly urgent objective in coping with the data avalanche is making biologically meaningful information accessible to the researcher. This contribution describes how we intend to meet this objective with the nutritional phenotype database. We outline relevant parts of the system architecture, describe the kinds of data managed by it, and show how the system can support retrieval of biologically meaningful information by means of ontologies, full-text queries, and structured queries. Our contribution points out critical points, describes several technical hurdles. It demonstrates how pathway analysis can improve queries and comparisons for nutrition studies. Finally, three directions for future research are given. © 2010 The Author(s).