Karen Cranston (NESCent) and myself are organizing a Symposium as part of the International Botanical Congress that will be held in Melbourne, Australia on July 23-30, 2011. We would be happy to consider abstract submissions, although the deadline is soon, November 7, 2010. Here is the Symposium's abstract:
The well-known increase in the size of molecular sequence databases is paralleled by the online content in databases of names, traits, specimens and phylogenies. These data provide an opportunity for large-scale analysis based on a framework of hierarchical species relationships. By combining online phylogenies and metadata, we can ask questions in comparative biology, genomics and ecology without the need for time-consuming manual assembly of data files. These analyses are facilitated not only by the availability of data, but also by the development of standards and protocols that allow us to computationally access, search, retrieve and repurpose trees and associated metadata. Access to non-molecular data poses novel challenges about how we describe and query the data - for example, defining traits or searching for specific evolutionary relationships. Interoperability relies on appropriate file formats for data sharing, ontologies to describe terms and relationships and web services to construct queries and return results. This symposium will highlight recent advances in interoperability of evolutionary data across databases with a focus on the plant sciences. Talks will describe existing resources in plant biology, technologies for data interoperability and analyses that have been enabled through open access to evolutionary data. The list of confirmed speakers includes botanists, computational biologists and computer scientists, all with expertise in data interoperability. These speakers represent a number of projects in plant biology and biodiversity informatics, including the iPlant Collaborative, Encyclopedia of Life, Angiosperm Phylogeny Web (APWeb), Semantic Automated Discovery and Integration (SADI) framework, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and TreeBASE.