Databases And Their Implications In Biological Sciences

N. Arumugam and I. Jaquline Chinna Rani. Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology- Madras, Chennai-600 036, Tamil Nadu-India. Department of Plant biology and Biotechnology, Loyola College (Autonomous) Chennai- 600 034, Tamil Nadu-Indi

2017-07-06 04:29:55

Credit:  LibGuides

Credit: LibGuides

Research in Biological sciences is the richest source of data in the field of Life Sciences; which is essential to find answers to many questions in medicinal, agricultural and biological oriented basic sciences.  Hence the need for storing large data – sets are crucial to explore the research time to time. Obvious examples are Sequence Database of protein, Nucleic acids(DNA & RNA), Enzymes, 3D Structural database of X-ray (PDB) and NMR (Membrane) proteins , Metabolic pathway , Molecular interaction database etc., a new field of science has emerged to organize all new challenges and possibilities created by these database called bioinformatics and System/ Computation biology. Data base is a collection of required data in well organized manner which will help end users in navigating their research in biological sciences efficiently.

Need of databases

As much as possible, the particular information is made available to all scientific community with reliability in a single place.  Because making the availability of all information from all Possible resources like published books, literature review, made less time consuming work.  Making them in computer readymade readable forms in database approach is more efficient and user friendly approach. Database development approach is a new technology which is much implemented on the classical biology like Botany, Zoology in order to turn the conventional biological subjects in to advanced level. Regular updating of database in all objectives will provide knowledge to the specific subject concern.

Biological Databases

Animal database

The importance of animal database is to know the divergence or distributional range, population of animal sps., in a different places/landscape, location of reservoirs.   Animals which are all in the endangered stage with alternative solution have to be included to save them. Also to explore the other threats related to wild animals welfare like forest fire, De-forestation etc., in India our country Wild life institute of India (WII) maintain a data set for wild animals.

Plant database

Plant database provides information about distribution of various plants in different places/ landscape, including Rare, Endangered and Threatened Plants, Common Medicinal Plants, Allergic pollen angiosperms, Ethno-botanical information obtained from various ethnic communities, Mangroves, Carnivorous Plants. Botanical survey of India is the government organization that maintains the database for plant data-sets.

Plant disease management database

Plant disease management is a crucial process in the field of agricultural sector, in order to increase the productivity of food grains to ensure food security.  In Plant disease management database provides information about the Distribution, Development and Management of various diseases in the crops. Government of India maintains the database for management of disease in various food crops to overcome and manage plant diseases.

Marine organism’s database

Two third of the planet surface is filled with ocean, studying the divergence of ocean is the big challenge in over the word, i.e., diversity of Marine organisms in ocean depends on many factors. WoRMS is one of the international databases, which has the global set of marine organism’s data like Global Species Databases (GSD), Regional Species Databases (RSD), Thematic Species Databases (TSD) and External Global Databases (EGD).India Ocean Census of Marine life sciences is sharing the datasets with Census of marine life sciences.

Algal biodiversity database

Algae are the photosynthetic organisms that converted the anaerobic atmosphere of the earth into an aerobic atmosphere by their process of oxygenic photo-phosphorylation. Algal Image Database of India (AIDI) explores algal diversity of various regions of India and documented encountered biodiversity in the form of an image database to navigating algal research. In addition, AIDI will be very effective in illustrating morphological variation (phenotypic plasticity) and helping researchers deal with taxonomical ambiguity in algae. AIDI also provides information about the algal biodiversity from a different biogeographically region (the sub-tropical region), which is otherwise lacking on the web.

Entomology database

This database is developed for the fulfillment of showcases the images of common insects found in Indian agricultural ecosystems. The reported eco systems are Field crops, Vegetable crops, Fruit crops, Spices, Plantation crops and Mulberry.  This useful entomology database is effectively maintained by National Bureau of Agricultural Indian resources – IARI.

Microbiology database

Microbes are ubiquitous in nature, NEMiD is the first web-based database of microbial diversity in North-East (NE) India,  which  gives information on cultivable/culturable microbes (bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes ) from surface and sub-surface soils across the seven states of the region (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura), Sikkim and parts of North Bengal. The database is based on the survey, isolation and characterization carried out for microbes from across the above geographical regions. Information on a particular microbe in the database covers detailed aspects of phylogenetic information on taxonomic outline and classification, morphological, biochemical and molecular characterization, general and cultural characteristics, geographical/location information, history of cultures, preservation details, hazardous information, patent information etc.,  The developed database is dedicated to microorganisms from a mega biodiversity region, and is expected to help in understanding the microbial diversity pattern of the region as well as its relationship to climate change studies13.which is maintained by Department of electronics and information technology-India.

Sequence and structural databases

Data bases are broadly divided in to primary, secondary and composite.  Primary database contains information about sequence or structure alone eg., Swiss port, PIR for protein sequence,  Genbank & DDBJ.PDB for protein structure.  Secondary database provides the information derived from primary database eg., entries of PDB in an organized manner according to their nature like α proteins, β sheets and Ω turn. Composite database is the mixture of above, which gives the information from multiple resources. These sequence and structural data bases are the ancestors for development of various databases in the universe.

Organization of data sets in database

At present organization of data sets in the database in a simple form but with fulfilling the end user complex queries is still difficult.  Still enormous research in algorithm sciences is going to overcome such kind of issue in the field of bioinformatics and Computational biology. 

Advantages of Biological Databases

·         Clarifying the queries of end users

·         Connecting the experimental work/ collected / calculated data with programming skills (via algorithms, codes)

·         Data base must be user friendly

·         Easy access of Data/information

·         Information to answer specific biological questions

·         Open access to all users

·         The DB helps the end users access biological data/information, such access lead them to respond rapidly for their purpose.

·         Up gradation of  old books and review in the form of database

Disadvantages of Biological Databases

·         Additional entries are regularly added to the database to refine the search criteria

·         Avoid duplication of information / uniformity across the different database

·         Cross references have to be included in the data base

·         Data base must be supported in all operating system(Windows/Linux) of the computers

·         Database has to be designed / built to answer complex queries

·         Formulating queries is a serious issue in biological databases. Often the quality of results depends on the quality of the queries.

·         Incorrect link

·         Presence of redundant records

·         Regular up gradation is essential

·         The developed database must be available in the internet for long time (Server must be maintained) to access the data at any time.


Web based systems have become more important due to the fact that the Internet and the World Wide Web have become ubiquitous and superior to all other technological developments in our history. The web based system approach is multiuser system. It is compatible with all the modern operating system and provides information to the user about the knowledge in the subject concern. Data bases not only helps researchers, students, farmers, state and central government bodies for timely decision making. The different database provides accurate information which helps in utilization of the data for research purpose and problem solving approach. There is no doubt that bioinformatics; Computational biology/ System biology tools for efficient research will provide significant impact on biological sciences. Various biological databases are present in Indian websites.  But we lack in database resources in many more aspects and sharing of information, updating of databases, Maintaining of server etc., which have to be resolved in order to share information without boundaries for sharing of knowledge.