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Biological Collections Ontology
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Biological Collections Ontology

Read about the Biological Collections Ontology in our PLOS ONE article at PloSONE article

A slightly outdated 12 minute overview of the BCO is available on YouTube at


The Biological Collections Ontology (BCO) is a the OBO Foundry library. The goal of the BCO is to support the interoperability of biodiversity data, including data on museum collections, environmental/metagenomic samples, and ecological surveys.

The BCO covers distinctions between individuals, organisms, voucher specimens, lots, samples, the relations between these entities, and the processes governing the creation and use of "samples". Also within scope are properties including collector, location, time, storage environment, containers, institution, and collection identifiers.


Please join the BCO Google Groups mailing list: You can browse the list at!forum/bco-discuss.

Stable release versions

The latest stable release of the BCO is always available from

Older releases are availabe via their purls using the form$releasedate

Editors' version

The editors' version of BCO can be downloaded directly from This version is subject to change and should be used with caution.


The repository was moved to this location from in September 2014. Much older versions of the ontology can be viewed at the biocode-commons project at

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