The Ribosomal Database Project (RDP) grew out of Carl Woese's vision of how rRNA comparative methods could transform biology. First at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and later at Michigan State University's Center for Microbial Ecology, the project has grown from a few hundred to several million rRNA gene sequences. In the years since Woese started the RDP, publications describing the database and related tools have been cited over 11,000 times in journals spanning a wide range of disciplines, while the RDP website is accessed by 10,000 researchers in over 20,000 analysis sessions each month. This article describes the history of RDP's development over the last two decades.
Keywords: Woese; database; microbial ecology; microbiology; phylogeny; rRNA.