Ontology Development

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Group's focus

This group's purpose is to ensure that the Gene Ontology represents biology in a way that is useful for gene product annotation of reference genomes and other MODs using the GO for annotation. The group serves as the link between biological knowledge that is gained from wet-bench scientists and the representation of that knowledge in the GO. Members of the group are responsible for reporting areas of the GO that need development and for suggesting changes and additions to the GO as needs arise. Members of the group serve as biological experts in domains that are covered by their organism. They are responsible for reviewing changes to be sure that they accurately reflect our current understanding of biology. With the help of the software team the group create rules to ensure the ontology's integrity.

Group Leader

Pascale Gaudet (GO Central); GitHub: @pgaudet

Ontology editors

Harold Drabkin, Pascale Gaudet, Raymond Lee, Edith Wong, Val Wood

Software support

Jim Balhoff

Other group members

Tanya Berardini, Karen Christie, Peter D'Eustachio, David Hill, Kimberly VanAuken


Chris Mungall, Paul Thomas


Editor's Conference calls


  • Calls are held weekly on Mondays, 12:00PM-1:00PM EST
  • Calls are scheduled on the GO's Google calendar. Please request access to the calendar if you don't have it.
  • Reminder emails are sent out to the go-ontology mailing list (see Internal_email_lists to register).

Agenda and Minutes


Useful reference: On becoming an OBO Semantic Engineer, by James Overton, Becky Jackson, Nicole Vasilevsky, Nicolas Matentzoglu, and Shawn Tan.

This book provides best practices as recommended by OBO Foundry. Note that some parts of this book may be more general than the documentation presented in this wiki.

Protégé 5.5 setup

Installing and Using git

Ontology Editors Daily Workflow

Editing the Ontology

Ontology editing principles

Topic Status Last reviewed
General Gene Ontology Principles Under review
Creating a new GO term - by aspect
*  New Molecular Functions
*  New Binding terms
*  New Biological Processes
*  New Cellular Components
Guidelines for GO textual definitions
Merging terms
Obsoleting terms
Database cross references and definition database cross references (dbxrefs)
External ontologies

Guidelines for specific terms Status Last reviewed
 Principles for catalytic activity terms  Draft 2022-05-16

How-to:Protégé instructions

Topic Status Last reviewed
New terms
GO term creation procedure  Current 2022-05-17
Procedure for creation of 'Regulation' terms
Guidelines for creating relationships between terms Under review
Guidelines for equivalence axioms (being reviewed) --- Also Logical_Definitions Under review
Guidelines for creating disjoint terms Under review
Guidelines for using ChEBI terms
Term annotations
Adding or Deleting Asserted Subclasses (or parents terms)
Adding Term Comments
Adding a Term to a GO Subset (Slim)
Adding and Removing Taxon Restrictions
Term obsoletion
Obsoleting an Existing Ontology Term
Restoring an Obsolete Ontology Term
Term merges
Merging Ontology Terms
Adding and Removing GO Subsets (Slims)
GO import files
Adding Terms and Regenerating the Import Files

Identifiers To be reviewed

Guidance for organizing content meetings

(old doc, but basic principles still apply)

Content Development

Ongoing Projects

Low priority

Completed projects

Proposed content work

A list of topics that we propose to address, but for which a timeline has not been set

Quality Control

SPARQL checks on the ontology

SPARQL checks on the ontology

Ontology release pipeline