A hymenopterists' guide to the Hymenoptera Anatomy Ontology: Utility, clarification, and future directions

Katja C. Seltmann, Matthew J. Yoder, István Mikó, Mattias Forshage, Matthew A. Bertone, Donat Agosti, Andrew D. Austin, James P. Balhoff, Marek L. Borowiec, Seán G. Brady, Gavin R. Broad, Gavin R. XBrothers, Roger A. Burks, Matthew L. Buffington, Heather M. Campbell, Kelly J. Dew, Andrew F. Ernst, José L. Fernández-Triana, Michael W. Gates, Gary A.P. GibsonJohn T. Jennings, Norman F. Johnson, Dave Karlsson, Ricardo Kawada, Lars Krogmann, Robert R. Kula, Patricia L. Mullins, Michael Ohl, Claus Rasmussen, Fredrik Ronquist, Susanne Schulmeister, Michael J. Sharkey, Elijah Talamas, Erika Tucker, Lars Vilhelmsen, Philip S. Ward, Robert A. Wharton, Andrew R. Deans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Hymenoptera exhibit an incredible diversity of phenotypes, the result of ~240 million years of evolution and the primary subject of more than 250 years of research. Here we describe the history, development, and utility of the Hymenoptera Anatomy Ontology (HAO) and its associated applications. These resources are designed to facilitate accessible and extensible research on hymenopteran phenotypes. Outreach with the hymenopterist community is of utmost importance to the HAO project, and this paper is a direct response to questions that arose from project workshops. In a concerted attempt to surmount barriers of understanding, especially regarding the format, utility, and development of the HAO, we discuss the roles of homology, "preferred terms", and "structural equivalency". We also outline the use of Universal Resource Identifiers (URIs) and posit that they are a key element necessary for increasing the objectivity and repeatability of science that references hymenopteran anatomy. Pragmatically, we detail a mechanism (the "URI table") by which authors can use URIs to link their published text to the HAO, and we describe an associated tool (the "Analyzer") to derive these tables. These tools, and others, are available through the HAO Portal website (http://portal.hymao.org). We conclude by discussing the future of the HAO with respect to digital publication, cross-taxon ontology alignment, the advent of semantic phenotypes, and community-based curation. Copyright Katja C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-88
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Hymenoptera Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Insect Science


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