Phenotyping in the era of genomics: MaTrics—a digital character matrix to document mammalian phenotypic traits

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



A new and uniquely structured matrix of mammalian phenotypes, MaTrics (Mammalian Traits for Comparative Genomics) in a digital form is presented. By focussing on mammalian species for which genome assemblies are available, MaTrics provides an interface between mammalogy and comparative genomics. MaTrics was developed within a project aimed to find genetic causes of phenotypic traits of mammals using Forward Genomics. This approach requires genomes and comprehensive and recorded information on homologous phenotypes that are coded as discrete categories in a matrix. MaTrics is an evolving online resource providing information on phenotypic traits in numeric code; traits are coded either as absent/present or with several states as multistate. The state record for each species is linked to at least one reference (e.g., literature, photographs, histological sections, CT scans, or museum specimens) and so MaTrics contributes to digitalization of museum collections. Currently, MaTrics covers 147 mammalian species and includes 231 characters related to structure, morphology, physiology, ecology, and ethology and available in a machine actionable NEXUS-format*. Filling MaTrics revealed substantial knowledge gaps, highlighting the need for phenotyping efforts. Studies based on selected data from MaTrics and using Forward Genomics identified associations between genes and certain phenotypes ranging from lifestyles (e.g., aquatic) to dietary specializations (e.g., herbivory, carnivory). These findings motivate the expansion of phenotyping in MaTrics by filling research gaps and by adding taxa and traits. Only databases like MaTrics will provide machine actionable information on phenotypic traits, an important limitation to genomics. MaTrics is available within the data repository Morph·D·Base (


Seiten (von - bis)235-249
FachzeitschriftMammalian Biology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Feb. 2022

Externe IDs

Scopus 85120748048
unpaywall 10.1007/s42991-021-00192-5
Mendeley 1110b67d-d511-33b7-8149-cd19197867bc
ORCID /0000-0001-9149-8614/work/142245444
ORCID /0009-0005-4858-5305/work/151941830



  • Comparative genomics, Discrete character states, Hard tissue, Museum specimens, Numeric coding, Visceral & life history traits