We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.


The First Public Nucleotide Sequence Database Turns 25

Listen with
Register for free to listen to this article
Thank you. Listen to this article using the player above.

Want to listen to this article for FREE?

Complete the form below to unlock access to ALL audio articles.

Read time: Less than a minute

Today EMBL-Bank, the nucleotide sequence database of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), celebrates its 25th anniversary.

It was the world’s earliest public database of DNA and RNA sequences and remains Europe’s primary nucleotide sequence resource. The database is maintained by EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton (UK) in collaboration with its US and Japanese counterparts GenBank and the DNA Databank of Japan.

EBI Associate Director Graham Cameron commented: “In the early days, databases were an adjunct to scientific publications and sequences were transcribed from the literature. Times have moved on. The databases are now the primary record for high-throughput science. We and our partners in Japan and the USA are custodians of that record, and proud of the long-standing collaboration which has kept all of the data available to scientists worldwide.”

Over the years EMBL-Bank has grown exponentially and currently contains over 97 million entries corresponding to 170 gigabases of sequence from over 280.000 organisms. New sequences are submitted at a rate of more than one sequence every two seconds and the database receives millions of accesses every day.

Today, half an hour at the computer can suggest a function for a new gene - a task that might previously have occupied a researcher for a year. In future, connections to diverse data from new high-throughput methods will help create an information space crucial to interdisciplinary systems biology.