Stoddard, S. F., B. J. Smith, R. Hein, B. R. Roller, and T. M. Schmidt. 2015. rrnDB: improved tools for interpreting rRNA gene abundance in bacteria and archaea and a new foundation for future development. Nucleic Acids Research 43:D593-598.
Microbiologists utilize ribosomal RNA genes as molecular markers of taxonomy in surveys of microbial communities. rRNA genes are often co-located as part of an rrn operon, and multiple copies of this operon are present in genomes across the microbial tree of life. rrn copy number variability provides valuable insight into microbial life history, but introduces systematic bias when measuring community composition in molecular surveys. Here we present an update to the ribosomal RNA operon copy number database (rrnDB), a publicly available, curated resource for copy number information for bacteria and archaea. The redesigned rrnDB (http://rrndb.umms.med.umich.edu/) brings a substantial increase in the number of genomes described, improved curation, mapping of genomes to both NCBI and RDP taxonomies, and refined tools for querying and analyzing these data. With these changes, the rrnDB is better positioned to remain a comprehensive resource under the torrent of microbial genome sequencing. The enhanced rrnDB will contribute to the analysis of molecular surveys and to research linking genomic characteristics to life history.
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