The Ensembl project, developed jointly by the EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has been used for the annotation, analysis and display of vertebrate genomes since 2000 (2). Its aim is to enable genomic science by providing high quality, integrated annotation on chordate and selected eukaryotic genomes within a consistent and accessible infrastructure (3). All supported species include comprehensive, evidence-based gene annotations and a selected set of genomes includes additional data focused on variation, comparative, evolutionary, functional and regulatory annotation. The most advanced resources are provided for key species including human, mouse, rat and zebrafish, reflecting the popularity and importance of these species in biomedical research. As of Ensembl release 64 (September 2011), 58 species are supported.
Since 2009, the Ensembl site has been complemented by the creation of five new sites, for bacteria, protists, fungi, plants and invertebrate metazoa, in the Ensembl Genomes project developed at the EBI (4). Both Ensembl and Ensembl Genomes are accessible through their web browsers, the BioMart tool and Perl APIs.
You can use Ensembl if you want to find out about the sequence of a gene, homologues in other species, variations across populations, or explore chromosomal regions around the gene of interest (Figure 1.3).
Figure 1.3 Ensembl and Ensembl genomes resources provide a wealth of information on genomes of different species used in biomedical research.