FB2015_02, released May 4, 2015

A Database of Drosophila Genes & Genomes

QuickSearch help


The QuickSearch tool on the FlyBase home page allows searching across all FlyBase reports. Forms for searching specific types of data have been separated into ‘tabs’, arrayed at the top of the QuickSearch window. Several of the tabs contain entirely new search tools, such as a new ‘Simple’ search form, an easy–to–use tool with access to all the data types in FlyBase. More information on how to use QuickSearch can be found below.

Links to specific help for each tab:
Species Searched

Several tabs search data that may be species-specific. In these tabs, a Species checkbox appears giving you the option to ‘include non-Dmel species’ in your search results. The default behavior is to return only Drosophila melanogaster (Dmel) data.

In the Data Type tab, an override behavior is available. To search for data in a non-Dmel species you can add a 4-letter species prefix to the symbol you are using to search, separated by a backslash (‘\’). For example, if you type Dvir\dpp, the search results for the gene symbol dpp will be filtered for those associated with D. virilis only.

Controlled Vocabularies

Several QuickSearch tabs search FlyBase data by making use of controlled vocabulary (CV) terms. These tabs provide intuitive domain-specific searches of FlyBase reports based on the Gene Ontology (GO) controlled vocabulary, on anatomical, developmental-stage-specific or phenotypic class terms used to annotate phenotypes, and on anatomical and/or developmental-stage-specific terms used to annotate gene expression. Combinations of CV terms can be searched using the forms in these tabs. An auto-completion feature is active wherever a search term should come from a CV, to assist you in choosing terms that will match records in FlyBase.


The QuickSearch auto-completion feature is active in tabs that search FlyBase using controlled vocabulary terms. Since only terms that are in the controlled vocabulary will match records in FlyBase, the auto-completion feature suggests CV terms that are compatible with what you have typed. Selecting a term from the suggestion list reduces the possibility of a search returning nothing because the search term is not one that is used by FlyBase curators.

Some tabs for non-CV-based searches also use the auto-complete feature. Several of the searchable fields available in the References tab are enhanced with auto-completion, which helps prevent searches that fail due to mis-spelled names or mis-remembered journal titles. Most of the data classes searchable under the Data Type tab have auto-completion associated with them as well.

The QuickSearch auto-completion feature overrides your browser’s auto-completion function.

Coordinated Auto-completion

The coordinated auto-completion feature is active for tabs in which several search terms may be used simultaneously for a search. When a term has been entered in one of these fields, the coordinated auto-completion for the other fields is aware of the term already typed, and suggests only terms that actually occur in combination with the first term in FlyBase reports. Here is an example of how it works in the Expression tab:

When the expression pattern (lit. curated) data class is selected, text box fields for Stage, Tissue, and Cell Loc. (cell location) are displayed. The auto-completion for these three fields is coordinated in the following sense: Suppose you enter "fertilized egg stage" in the Stage text box. When you move your focus to the Tissue text box, auto-complete there will show only four options; "egg", "female pronucleus", "fertilized egg", and "male pronucleus". This is because, out of the multitude of CV terms available for the Tissue field, only these four terms have actually been used in combination with "fertilized egg stage" by curators in an annotation captured in the FlyBase database. If you enter any other term in the Tissue text box, even though it may be a valid CV term for that field, your search would return zero hits, because there are no FlyBase reports containing that combination of CV terms.

Using the terms suggested by the auto-completion feature ensures that you do not enter terms that would be mutually exclusive (or are simply not used by curators) in FlyBase reports. Terms suggested by the auto-completion should always return results. If the coordinated auto-completion does not offer a term you wish to enter in a field, it is because this term does not appear in combination with some other term you have entered elsewhere on the form. In this case you should try another combination.

Wild Cards

When you use QuickSearch you can add the asterisk character ( * ) to the beginning or the end of a search term. This is recognized as a “wild card” and will find all terms that contain your search term at the end or beginning of a phrase, respectively. You can also flank your search term with wild card characters to find all phrases containing your search term. For example, you can find the genes that start with 'ft' by entering 'ft*'. (Search the Genes data class either under the Simple tab by selecting the 'Genes' data class from the result summary table, or under the Data Class tab by selecting 'genes' from the Data Class drop-down menu.) The result of this search lists fat (ft) and fushi tarazu (ftz), as you would expect, and also fruitless (fru), because it has the synonym 'fty'.

Tab Descriptions
Simple tab

This tab performs a comprehensive search of text-searchable FlyBase data. This includes most fields from sixteen data classes of reports. The search returns a result page summarizing the matching records by data type. Clicking on one of these data types takes you to a secondary result page containing a table of individual matches within that data type. QuickSearch also places your query text in a resubmission form on the result summary page, where you can edit or refine the phrase directly and search again, without having to start over.

The QuickSearch auto-completion feature is not active in this tab.

Expression tab

Search for genes according to expression patterns:

At the top of this tab is a link to the RNA-Seq Search tool. This tool can be used to search for genes by specifying a pattern of expression, as evidenced by high-throughput RNA-seq experiments.

Use the form below this link to search curated statements that describe published accounts of transcript and polypeptide expression. The input form has input boxes for developmental Stage, body part or Tissue, and subcellular localization (Cell Loc.). The coordinated auto-completion feature will assist you in finding the appropriate controlled vocabulary (CV) terms that have been used during the curation of each descriptor.

You can refine this search further by choosing to add qualifier terms. The coordinated auto-completion feature will provide you with a list of CV terms that have been used by curators to modify or limit the associated main term. The auto-completion for the qualifier terms is fully coordinated across all of these fields, in the sense that choosing a term for (e.g.) the Stage input will affect which qualifier terms are suggested for the Tissue or Cell Loc qualifier fields.

Phenotype tab

Search for alleles that have particular phenotypes. The form is divided into two portions, which may be used independently or in combination. The coordinated auto-completion feature will assist you in finding the appropriate controlled vocabulary (CV) terms that have been used during the curation of each phenotype.

The top section searches for alleles with a particular phenotypic class, e.g. "lethal" or "behavior defective". You can refine this search further using the refinement boxes, searching for a phenotype that occurs at a particular developmental stage, e.g. an embryonic stage and/or under particular conditions, e.g. "recessive" or "heat sensitive".

The bottom section searches for alleles that show a phenotype in a particular tissue or cell type, e.g. "wing" or "RP2 neuron". In this case, terms from the Anatomy controlled vocabulary or cellular component terms from the Gene Ontology controlled vocabulary are used. Again, you can refine this search further using the refinement boxes.

Please note that the coordinated auto-completion works within the two sections, but not between them. This means it is possible even when using auto-completion suggestions, to search on a combination of terms entered in both sections of this form that will return zero hits.

GO tab

Search the Gene Ontology (GO) controlled vocabulary directly. Results are a CV term report, or list of reports. Once you are looking at the term report, you can then get a list of genes that are annotated with that GO term (look in the Records annotated with this exact term section), among other things. Please see the CV term report help page for more information.

The QuickSearch auto-completion feature is active in this tab.

References tab

This tab searches the extensive FlyBase bibliography. Searches can be filtered by title/abstract text, journal name, publication type, and reference IDs (PubMed or FlyBase), in addition to the author and date filters. Appropriate fields also allow the use of Boolean operators, so you can search for papers authored by e.g. “Smith NOT Johnson”. In addition to Boolean operators the year field supports mathematical comparison symbols (>,>=,<,<=) and range indicators (-,--,..). For example,

  • >2003
  • <=1945
  • 1999-2003
  • 1970-1990 NOT 1976
  • 1992 OR 1995 OR 1998

The QuickSearch auto-completion feature is active for the fields in this tab where it will be helpful, such as the journal name field. These fields are indicated with a superscript.

Data Type tab

This tab contains a subset of the previous version of QuickSearch, and is laid out with very little change from that version. The Data Class drop-down menu restricts searches to only the single data type chosen, as before.

The QuickSearch auto-completion feature is active for most of the data classes in this tab.