About mtoc explorer

MTOC's, cilia and other microtubule derived organelles

Microtubule based organelles, such as centrosomes & cilia/flagella, are a hallmark of Eukaryotes that play key roles in cell motility and cell division. Their stereotypical arrangement of 9-fold symmetrical doublet and triplet microtubules strongly suggests this conformation originated in the first eukaryote. However these organelles have diversified in both structure and function in different eukaryotic branches.

mtoc explorer is a resource created to catalog and quantify the diversity in these fascinating organelles. Our international team of contributors have uploaded hundreds of images from all major eukaryotic branches, and annotated these using an ontology tailored to capture the diversity in MTOC's and their derived organelles.

the ontology

One of the challenges in doing comparative morphology across such a broad range of species with such diverse structures is finding a quantitative way to describe structure. To overcome this, we created an ontology designed specifically to capture as much morphological diversity as possible in the world of MTOC's and their derived structures.

An ontology is a hierarchical "controlled vocabulary" (set of well defined terms). By using an ontology we are able to capture various levels and types of information.


We are always interested in finding new species with interesting structures. If you know of any species or structures we are missing, or an example of diversity not on mtoc explorer, please contact us.

If you would be interested in joining the project as a contributor, please e-mail mtocDB@igc.gulbenkian.pt or mdias(at)igc.gulbenkian.pt or jleal(at)igc.gulbenkian.pt.

People involved

  • Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
    • Marc Gouw
    • Zita Carvalho-Santos
    • Renato Alves
    • Beatriz Ferreira Gomes
    • Filipe Tavares-Cadete
    • Joana Borrego Pinto
    • Neuza Matias
    • Mónica Bettencourt-Dias
    • José B. Pereira-Leal
  • University of California San Francisco
    • Juliette Azimzadeh
  • University of Oxford, Dunn School of Pathology
    • Keith Gull
  • Institut Curie, Paris
    • Michel Bornens