Phenotype Ontologies Reconciliation Effort

Nico Matentzoglu edited this page Dec 23, 2018 · 8 revisions

Phenotype ontologies have emerged in the last decade as a means to organise and query phenotypic content. Representing ontologies in a common language, OWL, facilitated the integration of those ontologies into various tool-chains, such as terminological services (OLS, OntoBee), search engines and more recently sophisticated diagnostic and analytic tools such as Exomiser. The phenotype ontology community has made much progress to date standardising their development practices, in particular by committing to OBO principles. OBO principles encourage, for example, standard practices for representing identifiers, well-documented and open development practices and some shared standard vocabularies such as the Relation Ontology that facilitate integration.

Despite the wealth of shared practices and a well-developed shared ecosystem of tools such as Protege, Robot, owltools, and the OWL API, phenotype ontologies (and their cousins, disease ontologies) are often not very deeply integrated. Entity-quality (EQ) patterns co-evolved with large phenotype ontologies such as the Human Phenotype Ontology and the Mammalian Phenotype ontology as a means to integrate ontologies without having to manually maintain links between them. EQ patterns allow ontologies to logically define phenotypes in terms of an entity (E, also called the 'bearer'), often an anatomical entity or a biological process, and a (modified) phenotypic quality (Q), such as 'abnormal morphology': For example, 'Abnormal eye morphology' could be defined as an 'abnormal morphology' that inheres in the 'eye'. By using standard vocabularies such as GO or UBERON for representing the entities and PATO for representing the phenotypic qualities, ontologies could now be combined and classified together.

While EQ patterns are now wide-spread in the phenotype community, their development was not always conducted collaboratively. As a result, large proportions of existing ontologies now contain incompatible definitions, which precludes smooth integration for cross-species queries. The Phenotype Ontologies Reconciliation Effort is a community effort that attempts to reconcile logical definition across a number of important phenotype ontologies. The effort was formed as part of the POTATO (Phenotype Ontologies Traversing All The Organisms) Workshop, co-located with ICBO 2018.

Current members

Ontology People Involved Groups Status
Zebrafish Phenotype Ontology (ZP) Yvonne Bradford ZFIN IN
Xenopus Phenotype Ontology (XPO) Erik Segerdell XenBase IN
Human Phenotype Ontology (HP) Peter Robinson, Sebastian Koehler, Leigh Carmody Monarch Initiative IN
Mammalian Phenotype Ontology (MP) Sue Bello Alliance of Genome Resources IN
C. elegans Phenotype Ontology (WBPheno) Chris Grove WormBase IN
Drosophila Phenotype Ontology (DPO) David Osumi-Sutherland, Clare Pilgrim FlyBase IN
Cellular Microscopy Phenotype Ontology (CMPO) Simon Jupp Samples, Phenotypes and Ontologies, EMBL-EBI IN
Planarian Phenotype Ontology (PLANP) Sofia Robb Stowers Institute for Medical Research IN
Fission Yeast Phenotype Ontology (FYPO) Midori A. Harris, Valerie Wood PomBase IN
Plant Trait Ontology (TO) Laurel Cooper*, Marie-Angélique Laporte, Pankaj Jaiswal Planteome, Bioversity IN
Ascomycete Phenotype Ontology (APO) Stacia Engel Alliance of Genome Resources IN


If you are interested in joining the phenotype ontology community, or need help with setting up your own phenotype ontology development environment, please send an email to the phenotype ontology editors mailing list.

You can’t perform that action at this time.
You signed in with another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session. You signed out in another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session.
Press h to open a hovercard with more details.