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In addition to the organismBM function, this function returns all available attributes that can be accessed through different marts and datasets for a given query organism.


organismAttributes(organism, update = FALSE, topic = NULL)



a character string specifying the scientific name of a query organism.


a logical value specifying whether or not the local listMart.txt, listDatasets.txt, and listAttributes_organism.txt files shall be updated by remote access to BioMart.


a character string specifying a topic (category) of attributes, e.g. topic = "id".


a data.frame storing corresponding attribute names, description, datasets, and marts.


For a given query organism, this function retrieves all available attributes that can be accessed through different marts and datasets.

Sometimes the same attribute names correspond to different datasets and marts causing problems when using getMarts. The approach introduced by this function provides (again) a organism centric way of accessing organism specific attributes.

The topic argument allows the user to search for specific attribute topics/categories for faster filtering.


When you run this function for the first time, the data retrieval procedure will take some time, due to the remote access to BioMart. The corresponding result is then saved in a *.txt file within the tempdir directory named "_biomart/listMarts.txt","_biomart/listDatasets.txt", and "_biomart/listAttributes_organism.txt", allowing subsequent queries to perform much faster.


Mapping identifiers for the integration of genomic datasets with the R/Bioconductor package biomaRt. Steffen Durinck, Paul T. Spellman, Ewan Birney and Wolfgang Huber, Nature Protocols 4, 1184-1191 (2009).

BioMart and Bioconductor: a powerful link between biological databases and microarray data analysis. Steffen Durinck, Yves Moreau, Arek Kasprzyk, Sean Davis, Bart De Moor, Alvis Brazma and Wolfgang Huber, Bioinformatics 21, 3439-3440 (2005).


Hajk-Georg Drost


if (FALSE) { # \dontrun{ 
# search for attribute topic id
head(organismAttributes("Homo sapiens", topic = "id"), 20)
} # }