The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) has produced a second special issue of OMICS. The first, published in 2006, brought together 20 invited papers from a diversity of standards communities, many of which are still in the most read list of OMICS papers. This special issue focuses exclusively on the efforts of the GSC as defined at the 5th GSC workshop held at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in December 2007. All papers in both issues are available online as free content and can be accessed without a subscription.
Community-driven standards activities are becoming increasingly important given the deluge of data being generated across the life-sciences, and in particular in the area of ‘omics. This is nowhere more true than in the field of genomics, especially given the explosion of metagenomic studies and the development of ultra high-throughput sequencing technologies.
The mission of the GSC is to improve the descriptions of genomes and metagenomes in the public domain and promote data sharing and exchange. Following the publication of its “Minimum Information about a Genome Sequence” guideline in May 2008, the GSC is now focusing on a set of projects that are designed to make MIGS an operational standard. Read the papers in this special issue to learn more about the Genomic Contextual Data Markup Language (GCDML) which implements MIGS in XML, the Genomic Rosetta Stone project, a mapping of genomic identifiers, and Habitat-Lite, a high-level, short list of terms selected from the Environment Ontology (EnvO). These, and other activities, are summarized in the proceedings of the 5th GSC workshop report also found in this issue. Combined, all of these projects are steps towards realizing the vision of creating a comprehensive and easily accessible store of information about our complete genome and metagenome collection.