Systems biology graphical notation markup language (SBGNML) version 0.3

J Integr Bioinform. 2020 Jun 22;17(2-3):20200016. doi: 10.1515/jib-2020-0016.


This document defines Version 0.3 Markup Language (ML) support for the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN), a set of three complementary visual languages developed for biochemists, modelers, and computer scientists. SBGN aims at representing networks of biochemical interactions in a standard, unambiguous way to foster efficient and accurate representation, visualization, storage, exchange, and reuse of information on all kinds of biological knowledge, from gene regulation, to metabolism, to cellular signaling. SBGN is defined neutrally to programming languages and software encoding; however, it is oriented primarily towards allowing models to be encoded using XML, the eXtensible Markup Language. The notable changes from the previous version include the addition of attributes for better specify metadata about maps, as well as support for multiple maps, sub-maps, colors, and annotations. These changes enable a more efficient exchange of data to other commonly used systems biology formats (e. g., BioPAX and SBML) and between tools supporting SBGN (e. g., CellDesigner, Newt, Krayon, SBGN-ED, STON, cd2sbgnml, and MINERVA). More details on SBGN and related software are available at With this effort, we hope to increase the adoption of SBGN in bioinformatics tools, ultimately enabling more researchers to visualize biological knowledge in a precise and unambiguous manner.

Keywords: SBGN; biological process diagrams; network biology; pathway diagram; systems biology; visualization.

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology
  • Metadata
  • Models, Biological
  • Programming Languages*
  • Software
  • Systems Biology*