What is BioSamples?


The BioSamples Database aggregates information for reference samples (such as cell lines or stock strains), as well as samples for which data exist in one of the EBI's other data resources (e.g. ArrayExpress, the European Nucleotide Archive, PRIDE). Samples are described with a set of annotations. These annotations can be linked to ontology (or controlled vocabulary) terms, which provide synonyms and more specific terms. Samples can also have defined relationships to other samples e.g. cell line derived from a donor or parent/child relationships.

What is a BioSample?

For the BioSamples Database, the term 'BioSample' has a broad definition. Generally, each BioSample relates to a discrete physical object that is composed of biological material and has, or will have, assay data associated with it. These include blood samples, cell cultures or individual organisms. However, a BioSample can also be an environmental sample (for instance, for meta-genomic analysis), a hybrid between two species, or a parasite culture. 

What is a BioSample group?

The BioSamples Database also has a concept of a group. A group is a collection of samples with similar annotations, typically used together in a study, project or experiment. In cases where individual sample information cannot be made public (for example, as a result of ethical constraints) a group containing aggregated annotation may be used instead.