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Gene Ontology is the de facto standard for annotation of gene products. It has been widely used in biological data mining, and I believe it will play more central role in the future.
Publications mentioning GO was collected and deposited in GO ftp, and can be accessed (ftp://ftp.geneontology.org/go/doc/).
I count the number of publicans by year, and draw a histogram, which showed that the growing trend was remarkable.