Feeding the Info Junkies

Getty Images In 1925, Drosophila pioneer Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students published their first compendium of fruit fly mutations. Known informally as the "Red Book," the catalog was continuously updated until 1992, by which time it had swelled to more than 1,100 pages. Drosophila needed to go digital. FlyBase went live in 1992. Today, this model organism database (MOD), just one of a growing number of such resources, logs about 30,000 hits per day. The curators of these MODs are biologist

Jeffrey Perkel
Jun 1, 2003
Getty Images

In 1925, Drosophila pioneer Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students published their first compendium of fruit fly mutations. Known informally as the "Red Book," the catalog was continuously updated until 1992, by which time it had swelled to more than 1,100 pages. Drosophila needed to go digital.

FlyBase went live in 1992. Today, this model organism database (MOD), just one of a growing number of such resources, logs about 30,000 hits per day. The curators of these MODs are biologists and bioinformaticians, who strive to integrate newly acquired genome-scale datasets, such as sequence, expression, and proteomic data, with more traditional biological information such as genetic maps, mutants, and phenotypes. The MODs' core mission, says WormBase developer Lincoln Stein of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, "is to make sure that anything interesting that gets reported in the literature finds its way into the database so that people can find it...