June 29, 2018
Of the thousands of databases available in Europe, only a few are systemically relevant to science. SILVA, a database for the life sciences operated jointly by Jacobs University Bremen and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, recently became one of them. “The recognition of SILVA as an ELIXIR ‘Core Data Resource’ is not only a special award for the work already done, but also a strong motivation to further increase the quality and user-friendliness of our data sets,” says Dr. Frank Oliver Glöckner, Professor of Bioinformatics at Jacobs University and head of the SILVA project.
ELIXIR brings together Europe’s leading organizations in the life sciences to manage and secure the growing amount of data generated by publicly funded research. The organization has recognized 18 databases as systemically relevant. They play a fundamental role in the long-term preservation and provision of biological research data.
The SILVA project founded by Glöckner is specialized in high-quality ribosomal RNA (rRNA) data sets for research and industry. The rRNA genes occur in all living organisms and are therefore a perfect marker - like a barcode - for the identification of organisms and for understanding their origin. It contains seven million sequences divided into various categories and classes. SILVA is used in marine, land and air biodiversity research, quality control in industry and medical diagnostics. Every day, more than 3,000 visitors from 200 countries access the website www.arb-silva.de to use the freely accessible data sets and tools.
Already in 2015 SILVA was selected for the German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure, de.NBI (www.denbi.de). The de.NBI network consists of eight closely linked service centers with 40 partners, which together provide a high-quality bioinformatics service offering. Glöckner hopes that the recognition of SILVA as a key European resource, will now provide financial sustainability to secure the operation of SILVA. Up to now SILVA could only be kept alive by means of temporary project funds.