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BMC Bioinformatics. 2008 Aug 4;9:328. doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-9-328.

A Java-based tool for the design of classification microarrays.

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  • 1School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Washington State University, Pullman, USA.



Classification microarrays are used for purposes such as identifying strains of bacteria and determining genetic relationships to understand the epidemiology of an infectious disease. For these cases, mixed microarrays, which are composed of DNA from more than one organism, are more effective than conventional microarrays composed of DNA from a single organism. Selection of probes is a key factor in designing successful mixed microarrays because redundant sequences are inefficient and limited representation of diversity can restrict application of the microarray. We have developed a Java-based software tool, called PLASMID, for use in selecting the minimum set of probe sequences needed to classify different groups of plasmids or bacteria.


The software program was successfully applied to several different sets of data. The utility of PLASMID was illustrated using existing mixed-plasmid microarray data as well as data from a virtual mixed-genome microarray constructed from different strains of Streptococcus. Moreover, use of data from expression microarray experiments demonstrated the generality of PLASMID.


In this paper we describe a new software tool for selecting a set of probes for a classification microarray. While the tool was developed for the design of mixed microarrays-and mixed-plasmid microarrays in particular-it can also be used to design expression arrays. The user can choose from several clustering methods (including hierarchical, non-hierarchical, and a model-based genetic algorithm), several probe ranking methods, and several different display methods. A novel approach is used for probe redundancy reduction, and probe selection is accomplished via stepwise discriminant analysis. Data can be entered in different formats (including Excel and comma-delimited text), and dendrogram, heat map, and scatter plot images can be saved in several different formats (including jpeg and tiff). Weights generated using stepwise discriminant analysis can be stored for analysis of subsequent experimental data. Additionally, PLASMID can be used to construct virtual microarrays with genomes from public databases, which can then be used to identify an optimal set of probes.

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