This article is part of the supplement: Seventh International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB2008)

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CMKb: a web-based prototype for integrating Australian Aboriginal customary medicinal plant knowledge

Jitendra Gaikwad12, Varun Khanna12, Subramanyam Vemulpad3, Joanne Jamie1, Jim Kohen4 and Shoba Ranganathan125*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

2 Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

3 Department of Health and Chiropractic, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

4 Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia

5 Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 8 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597

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Citation and License

BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9(Suppl 12):S25  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-S12-S25

Published: 12 December 2008



The customary medicinal plant knowledge possessed by the Australian Aboriginal people is a significant resource. Published information on it is scattered throughout the literature, in heterogeneous data formats, and is scattered among various Aboriginal communities across Australia, due to a multiplicity of languages. This ancient knowledge is at risk due to loss of biodiversity, cultural impact and the demise of many of its custodians. We have developed the Customary Medicinal Knowledgebase (CMKb), an integrated multidisciplinary resource, to document, conserve and disseminate this knowledge.


CMKb is an online relational database for collating, disseminating, visualising and analysing initially public domain data on customary medicinal plants. The database stores information related to taxonomy, phytochemistry, biogeography, biological activities of customary medicinal plant species as well as images of individual species. The database can be accessed at webcite. Known bioactive molecules are characterized within the chemoinformatics module of CMKb, with functions available for molecular editing and visualization.


CMKb has been developed as a prototype data resource for documenting, integrating, disseminating, analysing multidisciplinary customary medicinal plant data from Australia and to facilitate user-defined complex querying. Each species in CMKb is linked to online resources such as the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), NCBI Taxonomy, Australia's SpeciesLinks-Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS) and Google images. The bioactive compounds are linked to the PubChem database. Overall, CMKb serves as a single knowledgebase for holistic plant-derived therapeutics and can be used as an information resource for biodiversity conservation, to lead discovery and conservation of customary medicinal knowledge.