Volume 50, Issue 6 (November 2005)
The Microbial Rosetta Stone Database: A Common Structure for Microbial Biosecurity Threat Agents
Infectious microorganisms are important to multiple communities engaged in biodefense and biosecurity, including the agencies responsible for health, defense, law enforcement, agriculture, and drug and food safety. Many agencies have created lists of high priority infectious microorganisms to prioritize research efforts or to formally control the possession and distribution of specific organisms or toxins. However, the biological classification of infectious microorganisms is often complex and ambiguous, leading to uncertainty and confusion for scientists involved in biosecurity work. To address this problem, we created a database, known as the Microbial Rosetta Stone, which resolves many of these ambiguities and includes links to additional information on the microbes, such as gene sequence data and scientific literature. Here we discuss the efforts to coordinate organism names from pathogen lists from various governmental agencies according to biological relatedness and show the overlap of high-priority organisms from multiple agencies. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive coordination of pathogens, synonyms, and correct taxonomic names. The organized tables and visual aids are freely available at http://www.microbialrosettastone.com. This website provides a single location where access to information on a broad range of disease-causing organisms and toxins is available to members of the biosecurity community.