The first standard graphical notation for biology has recently been launched by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute. The notation aims to be as useful to biologists as circuit diagrams are to electrical engineers.
The new standard, called the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), is a visual language for biologists, which aims to make it easier to communicate complex information between researchers. Graphical representation is common in many fields of science but biology lacked a standardised notation to describe biological processes.
Nicolas Le Novère who coordinated the project said: ‘In the genomics era, especially since the emergence of high-throughput technologies, there have been massive increases in the amount of biological data. We believe that the SBGN will make it easier for researchers to understand each other’s models and to share this data more effectively. This will benefit systems biologists working on a variety of biochemical processes, including gene regulation, metabolism and cellular signalling.’
The notation is simple and biological information can be graphically represented in three different types of diagram – molecular processes, relationships between entities and links among biochemical activities. The project group hope that the extensive consultation with the community during the notation’s development will ensure its swift uptake.
By Leila Sattary