This article is part of the supplement: Italian Society of Bioinformatics (BITS): Annual Meeting 2011

Open Access Research

GIDL: a rule based expert system for GenBank Intelligent Data Loading into the Molecular Biodiversity database

Paolo Pannarale3, Domenico Catalano2, Giorgio De Caro1, Giorgio Grillo1, Pietro Leo3, Graziano Pappadà4, Francesco Rubino3, Gaetano Scioscia3 and Flavio Licciulli1*

Author affiliations

1 Institute for Biomedical Technologies (ITB), National Research Council (CNR), Bari, 70100, Italy

2 Institute of Plant Genetics (IGV), National Research Council (CNR), Bari, 70100, Italy

3 IBM GBS BAO Advanced Analytics Services and MBLab, Bari, 70100, Italy

4 Exhicon srl, Trani, 70059, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13(Suppl 4):S4  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S4-S4

Published: 28 March 2012



In the scientific biodiversity community, it is increasingly perceived the need to build a bridge between molecular and traditional biodiversity studies. We believe that the information technology could have a preeminent role in integrating the information generated by these studies with the large amount of molecular data we can find in bioinformatics public databases. This work is primarily aimed at building a bioinformatic infrastructure for the integration of public and private biodiversity data through the development of GIDL, an Intelligent Data Loader coupled with the Molecular Biodiversity Database. The system presented here organizes in an ontological way and locally stores the sequence and annotation data contained in the GenBank primary database.


The GIDL architecture consists of a relational database and of an intelligent data loader software. The relational database schema is designed to manage biodiversity information (Molecular Biodiversity Database) and it is organized in four areas: MolecularData, Experiment, Collection and Taxonomy. The MolecularData area is inspired to an established standard in Generic Model Organism Databases, the Chado relational schema. The peculiarity of Chado, and also its strength, is the adoption of an ontological schema which makes use of the Sequence Ontology.

The Intelligent Data Loader (IDL) component of GIDL is an Extract, Transform and Load software able to parse data, to discover hidden information in the GenBank entries and to populate the Molecular Biodiversity Database. The IDL is composed by three main modules: the Parser, able to parse GenBank flat files; the Reasoner, which automatically builds CLIPS facts mapping the biological knowledge expressed by the Sequence Ontology; the DBFiller, which translates the CLIPS facts into ordered SQL statements used to populate the database. In GIDL Semantic Web technologies have been adopted due to their advantages in data representation, integration and processing.

Results and conclusions

Entries coming from Virus (814,122), Plant (1,365,360) and Invertebrate (959,065) divisions of GenBank rel.180 have been loaded in the Molecular Biodiversity Database by GIDL. Our system, combining the Sequence Ontology and the Chado schema, allows a more powerful query expressiveness compared with the most commonly used sequence retrieval systems like Entrez or SRS.