ICEO, a biological ontology for representing and analyzing bacterial integrative and conjugative elements

Sci Data. 2022 Jan 20;9(1):11. doi: 10.1038/s41597-021-01112-5.


Bacterial integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) are highly modular mobile genetic elements critical to the horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance and virulence factor genes. To better understand and analyze the ongoing increase of ICEs, we developed an Integrative and Conjugative Element Ontology (ICEO) to represent the gene components, functional modules, and other information of experimentally verified ICEs. ICEO is aligned with the upper-level Basic Formal Ontology and reuses existing reliable ontologies. There are 31,081 terms, including 26,814 classes from 14 ontologies and 4128 ICEO-specific classes, representing the information of 271 known experimentally verified ICEs from 235 bacterial strains in ICEO currently and 311 predicted ICEs of 272 completely sequenced Klebsiella pneumoniae strains. Three ICEO use cases were illustrated to investigate complex joins of ICEs and their harboring antibiotic resistance or virulence factor genes by using SPARQL or DL query. ICEO has been approved as an Open Biomedical Ontology library ontology. It may be dedicated to facilitating systematical ICE knowledge representation, integration, and computer-assisted queries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Ontologies*
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal*
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae


  • DNA Transposable Elements