The appreciation and understanding of the role that carbohydrates play in nature has grown over the last few years driven by the advances in our ability to analyze and synthesize their structures.
Their role not only as primary energy-storage molecules but also as structural modifiers of e.g. glycoproteins and glycolipids, as well as in physiological and pathological events such as adherence, cell-cell interaction, transport, signaling and protection is becoming clearer and more accessible to researchers. Over the last decade the fields of glycobiology and glycochemistry in combination with in-silico applications have been augmented by a further field - glycomics. A major aim of glycomics research is to achieve a comprehensive identification and characterization of the repertoire of glycan structures present in an organism, cell or tissue at a defined time. The continual improvement of analysis methods and computational techniques leads to glycan characterization and identification with increased depth, speed and efficiency but also generates ever increasing amounts of data of variable quality and completeness.
Thus the many web-accessible repositories result in a highly fragmented knowledgebase which in consequence complicates the development and application of bioinformatics tools for the analysis of this data.
This situation has led to a general consensus that community wide efforts should be spent towards consolidating and systematizing the collective knowledgebase with integration of universal bioinformatics tools for both the representation, mining as well as annotation of experimental data sets to advance and interface glycomics with related genomics and proteomics projects.