IDOMAL: the malaria ontology revisited

J Biomed Semantics. 2013 Sep 13;4(1):16. doi: 10.1186/2041-1480-4-16.


Background: With about half a billion cases, of which nearly one million fatal ones, malaria constitutes one of the major infectious diseases worldwide. A recently revived effort to eliminate the disease also focuses on IT resources for its efficient control, which prominently includes the control of the mosquito vectors that transmit the Plasmodium pathogens. As part of this effort, IDOMAL has been developed and it is continually being updated.

Findings: In addition to the improvement of IDOMAL's structure and the correction of some inaccuracies, there were some major subdomain additions such as a section on natural products and remedies, and the import, from other, higher order ontologies, of several terms, which were merged with IDOMAL terms. Effort was put on rendering IDOMAL fully compatible as an extension of IDO, the Infectious Disease Ontology. The reason for the difficulties in fully reaching that target were the inherent differences between vector-borne diseases and "classical" infectious diseases, which make it necessary to specifically adjust the ontology's architecture in order to comprise vectors and their populations.

Conclusions: In addition to a higher coverage of domain-specific terms and optimizing its usage by databases and decision-support systems, the new version of IDOMAL described here allows for more cross-talk between it and other ontologies, and in particular IDO. The malaria ontology is available for downloading at the OBO Foundry ( and the NCBO BioPortal (