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1.  Fast and accurate short read alignment with Burrows–Wheeler transform 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(14):1754-1760.
Motivation: The enormous amount of short reads generated by the new DNA sequencing technologies call for the development of fast and accurate read alignment programs. A first generation of hash table-based methods has been developed, including MAQ, which is accurate, feature rich and fast enough to align short reads from a single individual. However, MAQ does not support gapped alignment for single-end reads, which makes it unsuitable for alignment of longer reads where indels may occur frequently. The speed of MAQ is also a concern when the alignment is scaled up to the resequencing of hundreds of individuals.
Results: We implemented Burrows-Wheeler Alignment tool (BWA), a new read alignment package that is based on backward search with Burrows–Wheeler Transform (BWT), to efficiently align short sequencing reads against a large reference sequence such as the human genome, allowing mismatches and gaps. BWA supports both base space reads, e.g. from Illumina sequencing machines, and color space reads from AB SOLiD machines. Evaluations on both simulated and real data suggest that BWA is ∼10–20× faster than MAQ, while achieving similar accuracy. In addition, BWA outputs alignment in the new standard SAM (Sequence Alignment/Map) format. Variant calling and other downstream analyses after the alignment can be achieved with the open source SAMtools software package.
PMCID: PMC2705234  PMID: 19451168
2.  Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Visualizing Next-Generation Sequence Data 
The Generic Genome Browser (GBrowse) is an free, open source, web-based browser for displaying and navigating genome features.It is part of the Generic Model Organism Database (GMOD) project which aims to provide reusable components for working with genomic data, and is in use by hundreds of institutions around the world.GBrowse is relatively easy to install and can display any type of genome feature, including alignment data from current sequencing technologies after processing with SAMtools, a free and open source tool for working with large sequence alignments.The combination of SAMtools and GBrowse provides an excellent platform for providing extra value to sequencing core lab customers.See:,
PMCID: PMC2917996
3.  Bio-samtools: Ruby bindings for SAMtools, a library for accessing BAM files containing high-throughput sequence alignments 
The SAMtools utilities comprise a very useful and widely used suite of software for manipulating files and alignments in the SAM and BAM format, used in a wide range of genetic analyses. The SAMtools utilities are implemented in C and provide an API for programmatic access, to help make this functionality available to programmers wishing to develop in the high level Ruby language we have developed bio-samtools, a Ruby binding to the SAMtools library.
The utility of SAMtools is encapsulated in 3 main classes, Bio::DB::Sam, representing the alignment files and providing access to the data in them, Bio::DB::Alignment, representing the individual read alignments inside the files and Bio::DB::Pileup, representing the summarised nucleotides of reads over a single point in the nucleotide sequence to which the reads are aligned.
Bio-samtools is a flexible and easy to use interface that programmers of many levels of experience can use to access information in the popular and common SAM/BAM format.
PMCID: PMC3473260  PMID: 22640879
Next-generation sequencing; DNA; High; Throughput; Ruby; Bio; SAM; BAM
4.  SAMMate: a GUI tool for processing short read alignments in SAM/BAM format 
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology generates tens of millions of short reads for each DNA/RNA sample. A key step in NGS data analysis is the short read alignment of the generated sequences to a reference genome. Although storing alignment information in the Sequence Alignment/Map (SAM) or Binary SAM (BAM) format is now standard, biomedical researchers still have difficulty accessing this information.
We have developed a Graphical User Interface (GUI) software tool named SAMMate. SAMMate allows biomedical researchers to quickly process SAM/BAM files and is compatible with both single-end and paired-end sequencing technologies. SAMMate also automates some standard procedures in DNA-seq and RNA-seq data analysis. Using either standard or customized annotation files, SAMMate allows users to accurately calculate the short read coverage of genomic intervals. In particular, for RNA-seq data SAMMate can accurately calculate the gene expression abundance scores for customized genomic intervals using short reads originating from both exons and exon-exon junctions. Furthermore, SAMMate can quickly calculate a whole-genome signal map at base-wise resolution allowing researchers to solve an array of bioinformatics problems. Finally, SAMMate can export both a wiggle file for alignment visualization in the UCSC genome browser and an alignment statistics report. The biological impact of these features is demonstrated via several case studies that predict miRNA targets using short read alignment information files.
With just a few mouse clicks, SAMMate will provide biomedical researchers easy access to important alignment information stored in SAM/BAM files. Our software is constantly updated and will greatly facilitate the downstream analysis of NGS data. Both the source code and the GUI executable are freely available under the GNU General Public License at
PMCID: PMC3027120  PMID: 21232146
5.  Short read sequence typing (SRST): multi-locus sequence types from short reads 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:338.
Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) has become the gold standard for population analyses of bacterial pathogens. This method focuses on the sequences of a small number of loci (usually seven) to divide the population and is simple, robust and facilitates comparison of results between laboratories and over time. Over the last decade, researchers and population health specialists have invested substantial effort in building up public MLST databases for nearly 100 different bacterial species, and these databases contain a wealth of important information linked to MLST sequence types such as time and place of isolation, host or niche, serotype and even clinical or drug resistance profiles. Recent advances in sequencing technology mean it is increasingly feasible to perform bacterial population analysis at the whole genome level. This offers massive gains in resolving power and genetic profiling compared to MLST, and will eventually replace MLST for bacterial typing and population analysis. However given the wealth of data currently available in MLST databases, it is crucial to maintain backwards compatibility with MLST schemes so that new genome analyses can be understood in their proper historical context.
We present a software tool, SRST, for quick and accurate retrieval of sequence types from short read sets, using inputs easily downloaded from public databases. SRST uses read mapping and an allele assignment score incorporating sequence coverage and variability, to determine the most likely allele at each MLST locus. Analysis of over 3,500 loci in more than 500 publicly accessible Illumina read sets showed SRST to be highly accurate at allele assignment. SRST output is compatible with common analysis tools such as eBURST, Clonal Frame or PhyloViz, allowing easy comparison between novel genome data and MLST data. Alignment, fastq and pileup files can also be generated for novel alleles.
SRST is a novel software tool for accurate assignment of sequence types using short read data. Several uses for the tool are demonstrated, including quality control for high-throughput sequencing projects, plasmid MLST and analysis of genomic data during outbreak investigation. SRST is open-source, requires Python, BWA and SamTools, and is available from
PMCID: PMC3460743  PMID: 22827703
MLST; Short read; Illumina; Sequence analysis; Plasmid; Chromosome; Microbiology; Bacteria; Population analysis; Outbreak
6.  Improving SNP discovery by base alignment quality 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(8):1157-1158.
Summary: I propose a new application of profile Hidden Markov Models in the area of SNP discovery from resequencing data, to greatly reduce false SNP calls caused by misalignments around insertions and deletions (indels). The central concept is per-Base Alignment Quality, which accurately measures the probability of a read base being wrongly aligned. The effectiveness of BAQ has been positively confirmed on large datasets by the 1000 Genomes Project analysis subgroup.
PMCID: PMC3072548  PMID: 21320865
7.  HUGO: Hierarchical mUlti-reference Genome cOmpression for aligned reads 
Background and objective
Short-read sequencing is becoming the standard of practice for the study of structural variants associated with disease. However, with the growth of sequence data largely surpassing reasonable storage capability, the biomedical community is challenged with the management, transfer, archiving, and storage of sequence data.
We developed Hierarchical mUlti-reference Genome cOmpression (HUGO), a novel compression algorithm for aligned reads in the sorted Sequence Alignment/Map (SAM) format. We first aligned short reads against a reference genome and stored exactly mapped reads for compression. For the inexact mapped or unmapped reads, we realigned them against different reference genomes using an adaptive scheme by gradually shortening the read length. Regarding the base quality value, we offer lossy and lossless compression mechanisms. The lossy compression mechanism for the base quality values uses k-means clustering, where a user can adjust the balance between decompression quality and compression rate. The lossless compression can be produced by setting k (the number of clusters) to the number of different quality values.
The proposed method produced a compression ratio in the range 0.5–0.65, which corresponds to 35–50% storage savings based on experimental datasets. The proposed approach achieved 15% more storage savings over CRAM and comparable compression ratio with Samcomp (CRAM and Samcomp are two of the state-of-the-art genome compression algorithms). The software is freely available at a General Public License (GPL) license.
Our method requires having different reference genomes and prolongs the execution time for additional alignments.
The proposed multi-reference-based compression algorithm for aligned reads outperforms existing single-reference based algorithms.
PMCID: PMC3932469  PMID: 24368726
8.  SAMStat: monitoring biases in next generation sequencing data 
Bioinformatics  2010;27(1):130-131.
Motivation: The sequence alignment/map format (SAM) is a commonly used format to store the alignments between millions of short reads and a reference genome. Often certain positions within the reads are inherently more likely to contain errors due to the protocols used to prepare the samples. Such biases can have adverse effects on both mapping rate and accuracy. To understand the relationship between potential protocol biases and poor mapping we wrote SAMstat, a simple C program plotting nucleotide overrepresentation and other statistics in mapped and unmapped reads in a concise html page. Collecting such statistics also makes it easy to highlight problems in the data processing and enables non-experts to track data quality over time.
Results: We demonstrate that studying sequence features in mapped data can be used to identify biases particular to one sequencing protocol. Once identified, such biases can be considered in the downstream analysis or even be removed by read trimming or filtering techniques.
Availability: SAMStat is open source and freely available as a C program running on all Unix-compatible platforms. The source code is available from
PMCID: PMC3008642  PMID: 21088025
9.  Track data hubs enable visualization of user-defined genome-wide annotations on the UCSC Genome Browser 
Bioinformatics  2013;30(7):1003-1005.
Summary: Track data hubs provide an efficient mechanism for visualizing remotely hosted Internet-accessible collections of genome annotations. Hub datasets can be organized, configured and fully integrated into the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Genome Browser and accessed through the familiar browser interface. For the first time, individuals can use the complete browser feature set to view custom datasets without the overhead of setting up and maintaining a mirror.
Availability and implementation: Source code for the BigWig, BigBed and Genome Browser software is freely available for non-commercial use at, implemented in C and supported on Linux. Binaries for the BigWig and BigBed creation and parsing utilities may be downloaded at Binary Alignment/Map (BAM) and Variant Call Format (VCF)/tabix utilities are available from and The UCSC Genome Browser is publicly accessible at
PMCID: PMC3967101  PMID: 24227676
10.  Fast and accurate long-read alignment with Burrows–Wheeler transform 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(5):589-595.
Motivation: Many programs for aligning short sequencing reads to a reference genome have been developed in the last 2 years. Most of them are very efficient for short reads but inefficient or not applicable for reads >200 bp because the algorithms are heavily and specifically tuned for short queries with low sequencing error rate. However, some sequencing platforms already produce longer reads and others are expected to become available soon. For longer reads, hashing-based software such as BLAT and SSAHA2 remain the only choices. Nonetheless, these methods are substantially slower than short-read aligners in terms of aligned bases per unit time.
Results: We designed and implemented a new algorithm, Burrows-Wheeler Aligner's Smith-Waterman Alignment (BWA-SW), to align long sequences up to 1 Mb against a large sequence database (e.g. the human genome) with a few gigabytes of memory. The algorithm is as accurate as SSAHA2, more accurate than BLAT, and is several to tens of times faster than both.
PMCID: PMC2828108  PMID: 20080505
11.  BamView: viewing mapped read alignment data in the context of the reference sequence 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(5):676-677.
Summary: BamView is an interactive Java application for visualizing the large amounts of data stored for sequence reads which are aligned against a reference genome sequence. It supports the BAM (Binary Alignment/Map) format. It can be used in a number of contexts including SNP calling and structural annotation. BamView has also been integrated into Artemis so that the reads can be viewed in the context of the nucleotide sequence and genomic features.
Availability: BamView and Artemis are freely available (under a GPL licence) for download (for MacOSX, UNIX and Windows) at:
PMCID: PMC2828118  PMID: 20071372
12.  Coval: Improving Alignment Quality and Variant Calling Accuracy for Next-Generation Sequencing Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75402.
Accurate identification of DNA polymorphisms using next-generation sequencing technology is challenging because of a high rate of sequencing error and incorrect mapping of reads to reference genomes. Currently available short read aligners and DNA variant callers suffer from these problems. We developed the Coval software to improve the quality of short read alignments. Coval is designed to minimize the incidence of spurious alignment of short reads, by filtering mismatched reads that remained in alignments after local realignment and error correction of mismatched reads. The error correction is executed based on the base quality and allele frequency at the non-reference positions for an individual or pooled sample. We demonstrated the utility of Coval by applying it to simulated genomes and experimentally obtained short-read data of rice, nematode, and mouse. Moreover, we found an unexpectedly large number of incorrectly mapped reads in ‘targeted’ alignments, where the whole genome sequencing reads had been aligned to a local genomic segment, and showed that Coval effectively eliminated such spurious alignments. We conclude that Coval significantly improves the quality of short-read sequence alignments, thereby increasing the calling accuracy of currently available tools for SNP and indel identification. Coval is available at
PMCID: PMC3792961  PMID: 24116042
13.  BamView: visualizing and interpretation of next-generation sequencing read alignments 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2012;14(2):203-212.
So-called next-generation sequencing (NGS) has provided the ability to sequence on a massive scale at low cost, enabling biologists to perform powerful experiments and gain insight into biological processes. BamView has been developed to visualize and analyse sequence reads from NGS platforms, which have been aligned to a reference sequence. It is a desktop application for browsing the aligned or mapped reads [Ruffalo, M, LaFramboise, T, Koyutürk, M. Comparative analysis of algorithms for next-generation sequencing read alignment. Bioinformatics 2011;27:2790–6] at different levels of magnification, from nucleotide level, where the base qualities can be seen, to genome or chromosome level where overall coverage is shown. To enable in-depth investigation of NGS data, various views are provided that can be configured to highlight interesting aspects of the data. Multiple read alignment files can be overlaid to compare results from different experiments, and filters can be applied to facilitate the interpretation of the aligned reads. As well as being a standalone application it can be used as an integrated part of the Artemis genome browser, BamView allows the user to study NGS data in the context of the sequence and annotation of the reference genome. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density and candidate SNP sites can be highlighted and investigated, and read-pair information can be used to discover large structural insertions and deletions. The application will also calculate simple analyses of the read mapping, including reporting the read counts and reads per kilobase per million mapped reads (RPKM) for genes selected by the user.
Availability: BamView and Artemis are freely available software. These can be downloaded from their home pages:;
Requirements: Java 1.6 or higher.
PMCID: PMC3603209  PMID: 22253280
genome browser; next-generation sequencing; visualization; Artemis; BamView
14.  Tabix: fast retrieval of sequence features from generic TAB-delimited files 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(5):718-719.
Summary: Tabix is the first generic tool that indexes position sorted files in TAB-delimited formats such as GFF, BED, PSL, SAM and SQL export, and quickly retrieves features overlapping specified regions. Tabix features include few seek function calls per query, data compression with gzip compatibility and direct FTP/HTTP access. Tabix is implemented as a free command-line tool as well as a library in C, Java, Perl and Python. It is particularly useful for manually examining local genomic features on the command line and enables genome viewers to support huge data files and remote custom tracks over networks.
Availability and Implementation:
PMCID: PMC3042176  PMID: 21208982
15.  Efficient digest of high-throughput sequencing data in a reproducible report 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 11):S3.
High-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies are spearheading the accelerated development of biomedical research. Processing and summarizing the large amount of data generated by HTS presents a non-trivial challenge to bioinformatics. A commonly adopted standard is to store sequencing reads aligned to a reference genome in SAM (Sequence Alignment/Map) or BAM (Binary Alignment/Map) files. Quality control of SAM/BAM files is a critical checkpoint before downstream analysis. The goal of the current project is to facilitate and standardize this process.
We developed bamchop, a robust program to efficiently summarize key statistical metrics of HTS data stored in BAM files, and to visually present the results in a formatted report. The report documents information about various aspects of HTS data, such as sequencing quality, mapping to a reference genome, sequencing coverage, and base frequency. Bamchop uses the R language and Bioconductor packages to calculate statistical matrices and the Sweave utility and associated LaTeX markup for documentation. Bamchop's efficiency and robustness were tested on BAM files generated by local sequencing facilities and the 1000 Genomes Project. Source code, instruction and example reports of bamchop are freely available from
Bamchop enables biomedical researchers to quickly and rigorously evaluate HTS data by providing a convenient synopsis and user-friendly reports.
PMCID: PMC3846741  PMID: 24564231
16.  SPANDx: a genomics pipeline for comparative analysis of large haploid whole genome re-sequencing datasets 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7(1):618.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is now a commonplace tool for molecular characterisation of virtually any species of interest. Despite the ever-increasing use of NGS in laboratories worldwide, analysis of whole genome re-sequencing (WGS) datasets from start to finish remains nontrivial due to the fragmented nature of NGS software and the lack of experienced bioinformaticists in many research teams.
We describe SPANDx (Synergised Pipeline for Analysis of NGS Data in Linux), a new tool for high-throughput comparative analysis of haploid WGS datasets comprising one through thousands of genomes. SPANDx consolidates several well-validated, open-source packages into a single tool, mitigating the need to learn and manipulate individual NGS programs. SPANDx incorporates BWA for alignment of raw NGS reads against a reference genome or pan-genome, followed by data filtering, variant calling and annotation using Picard, GATK, SAMtools and SnpEff. BEDTools has also been included for genetic locus presence/absence (P/A) determination to easily visualise the core and accessory genomes. Additional SPANDx features include construction of error-corrected single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and insertion-deletion matrices, and P/A matrices, to enable user-friendly visualisation of genetic variants. The SNP matrices generated using VCFtools and GATK are directly importable into PAUP*, PHYLIP or RAxML for downstream phylogenetic analysis. SPANDx has been developed to handle NGS data from Illumina, Ion Personal Genome Machine (PGM) and 454 platforms, and we demonstrate that it has comparable performance across Illumina MiSeq/HiSeq2000 and Ion PGM data.
SPANDx is an all-in-one tool for comprehensive haploid WGS analysis. SPANDx is open source and is freely available at:
PMCID: PMC4169827  PMID: 25201145
NGS; Haploid; Pipeline; Comparative genomics; Illumina; Ion PGM; Variant calling; SNP; Indel; Phylogeny
17.  BFAST: An Alignment Tool for Large Scale Genome Resequencing 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7767.
The new generation of massively parallel DNA sequencers, combined with the challenge of whole human genome resequencing, result in the need for rapid and accurate alignment of billions of short DNA sequence reads to a large reference genome. Speed is obviously of great importance, but equally important is maintaining alignment accuracy of short reads, in the 25–100 base range, in the presence of errors and true biological variation.
We introduce a new algorithm specifically optimized for this task, as well as a freely available implementation, BFAST, which can align data produced by any of current sequencing platforms, allows for user-customizable levels of speed and accuracy, supports paired end data, and provides for efficient parallel and multi-threaded computation on a computer cluster. The new method is based on creating flexible, efficient whole genome indexes to rapidly map reads to candidate alignment locations, with arbitrary multiple independent indexes allowed to achieve robustness against read errors and sequence variants. The final local alignment uses a Smith-Waterman method, with gaps to support the detection of small indels.
We compare BFAST to a selection of large-scale alignment tools - BLAT, MAQ, SHRiMP, and SOAP - in terms of both speed and accuracy, using simulated and real-world datasets. We show BFAST can achieve substantially greater sensitivity of alignment in the context of errors and true variants, especially insertions and deletions, and minimize false mappings, while maintaining adequate speed compared to other current methods. We show BFAST can align the amount of data needed to fully resequence a human genome, one billion reads, with high sensitivity and accuracy, on a modest computer cluster in less than 24 hours. BFAST is available at
PMCID: PMC2770639  PMID: 19907642
18.  Oculus: faster sequence alignment by streaming read compression 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:297.
Despite significant advancement in alignment algorithms, the exponential growth of nucleotide sequencing throughput threatens to outpace bioinformatic analysis. Computation may become the bottleneck of genome analysis if growing alignment costs are not mitigated by further improvement in algorithms. Much gain has been gleaned from indexing and compressing alignment databases, but many widely used alignment tools process input reads sequentially and are oblivious to any underlying redundancy in the reads themselves.
Here we present Oculus, a software package that attaches to standard aligners and exploits read redundancy by performing streaming compression, alignment, and decompression of input sequences. This nearly lossless process (> 99.9%) led to alignment speedups of up to 270% across a variety of data sets, while requiring a modest amount of memory. We expect that streaming read compressors such as Oculus could become a standard addition to existing RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq alignment pipelines, and potentially other applications in the future as throughput increases.
Oculus efficiently condenses redundant input reads and wraps existing aligners to provide nearly identical SAM output in a fraction of the aligner runtime. It includes a number of useful features, such as tunable performance and fidelity options, compatibility with FASTA or FASTQ files, and adherence to the SAM format. The platform-independent C++ source code is freely available online, at
PMCID: PMC3534618  PMID: 23148484
DNA nucleotide sequence alignment streaming identity redundancy compression software algorithm
19.  mrsFAST-Ultra: a compact, SNP-aware mapper for high performance sequencing applications 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(Web Server issue):W494-W500.
High throughput sequencing (HTS) platforms generate unprecedented amounts of data that introduce challenges for processing and downstream analysis. While tools that report the ‘best’ mapping location of each read provide a fast way to process HTS data, they are not suitable for many types of downstream analysis such as structural variation detection, where it is important to report multiple mapping loci for each read. For this purpose we introduce mrsFAST-Ultra, a fast, cache oblivious, SNP-aware aligner that can handle the multi-mapping of HTS reads very efficiently. mrsFAST-Ultra improves mrsFAST, our first cache oblivious read aligner capable of handling multi-mapping reads, through new and compact index structures that reduce not only the overall memory usage but also the number of CPU operations per alignment. In fact the size of the index generated by mrsFAST-Ultra is 10 times smaller than that of mrsFAST. As importantly, mrsFAST-Ultra introduces new features such as being able to (i) obtain the best mapping loci for each read, and (ii) return all reads that have at most n mapping loci (within an error threshold), together with these loci, for any user specified n. Furthermore, mrsFAST-Ultra is SNP-aware, i.e. it can map reads to reference genome while discounting the mismatches that occur at common SNP locations provided by db-SNP; this significantly increases the number of reads that can be mapped to the reference genome. Notice that all of the above features are implemented within the index structure and are not simple post-processing steps and thus are performed highly efficiently. Finally, mrsFAST-Ultra utilizes multiple available cores and processors and can be tuned for various memory settings. Our results show that mrsFAST-Ultra is roughly five times faster than its predecessor mrsFAST. In comparison to newly enhanced popular tools such as Bowtie2, it is more sensitive (it can report 10 times or more mappings per read) and much faster (six times or more) in the multi-mapping mode. Furthermore, mrsFAST-Ultra has an index size of 2GB for the entire human reference genome, which is roughly half of that of Bowtie2. mrsFAST-Ultra is open source and it can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC4086126  PMID: 24810850
20.  FLEXBAR—Flexible Barcode and Adapter Processing for Next-Generation Sequencing Platforms 
Biology  2012;1(3):895-905.
Quantitative and systems biology approaches benefit from the unprecedented depth of next-generation sequencing. A typical experiment yields millions of short reads, which oftentimes carry particular sequence tags. These tags may be: (a) specific to the sequencing platform and library construction method (e.g., adapter sequences); (b) have been introduced by experimental design (e.g., sample barcodes); or (c) constitute some biological signal (e.g., splice leader sequences in nematodes). Our software FLEXBAR enables accurate recognition, sorting and trimming of sequence tags with maximal flexibility, based on exact overlap sequence alignment. The software supports data formats from all current sequencing platforms, including color-space reads. FLEXBAR maintains read pairings and processes separate barcode reads on demand. Our software facilitates the fine-grained adjustment of sequence tag detection parameters and search regions. FLEXBAR is a multi-threaded software and combines speed with precision. Even complex read processing scenarios might be executed with a single command line call. We demonstrate the utility of the software in terms of read mapping applications, library demultiplexing and splice leader detection. FLEXBAR and additional information is available for academic use from the website:
PMCID: PMC4009805  PMID: 24832523
high-throughput sequencing; demultiplexing; trimming; clipping; quality control
21.  CloudAligner: A fast and full-featured MapReduce based tool for sequence mapping 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:171.
Research in genetics has developed rapidly recently due to the aid of next generation sequencing (NGS). However, massively-parallel NGS produces enormous amounts of data, which leads to storage, compatibility, scalability, and performance issues. The Cloud Computing and MapReduce framework, which utilizes hundreds or thousands of shared computers to map sequencing reads quickly and efficiently to reference genome sequences, appears to be a very promising solution for these issues. Consequently, it has been adopted by many organizations recently, and the initial results are very promising. However, since these are only initial steps toward this trend, the developed software does not provide adequate primary functions like bisulfite, pair-end mapping, etc., in on-site software such as RMAP or BS Seeker. In addition, existing MapReduce-based applications were not designed to process the long reads produced by the most recent second-generation and third-generation NGS instruments and, therefore, are inefficient. Last, it is difficult for a majority of biologists untrained in programming skills to use these tools because most were developed on Linux with a command line interface.
To urge the trend of using Cloud technologies in genomics and prepare for advances in second- and third-generation DNA sequencing, we have built a Hadoop MapReduce-based application, CloudAligner, which achieves higher performance, covers most primary features, is more accurate, and has a user-friendly interface. It was also designed to be able to deal with long sequences. The performance gain of CloudAligner over Cloud-based counterparts (35 to 80%) mainly comes from the omission of the reduce phase. In comparison to local-based approaches, the performance gain of CloudAligner is from the partition and parallel processing of the huge reference genome as well as the reads. The source code of CloudAligner is available at and its web version is at
Our results show that CloudAligner is faster than CloudBurst, provides more accurate results than RMAP, and supports various input as well as output formats. In addition, with the web-based interface, it is easier to use than its counterparts.
PMCID: PMC3127959  PMID: 21645377
22.  iMapper: a web application for the automated analysis and mapping of insertional mutagenesis sequence data against Ensembl genomes 
Bioinformatics  2008;24(24):2923-2925.
Summary: Insertional mutagenesis is a powerful method for gene discovery. To identify the location of insertion sites in the genome linker based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods (such as splinkerette-PCR) may be employed. We have developed a web application called iMapper (Insertional Mutagenesis Mapping and Analysis Tool) for the efficient analysis of insertion site sequence reads against vertebrate and invertebrate Ensembl genomes. Taking linker based sequences as input, iMapper scans and trims the sequence to remove the linker and sequences derived from the insertional mutagen. The software then identifies and removes contaminating sequences derived from chimeric genomic fragments, vector or the transposon concatamer and then presents the clipped sequence reads to a sequence mapping server which aligns them to an Ensembl genome. Insertion sites can then be navigated in Ensembl in the context of genomic features such as gene structures. iMapper also generates test-based format for nucleic acid or protein sequences (FASTA) and generic file format (GFF) files of the clipped sequence reads and provides a graphical overview of the mapped insertion sites against a karyotype. iMapper is designed for high-throughput applications and can efficiently process thousands of DNA sequence reads.
Availability: iMapper is web based and can be accessed at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2639305  PMID: 18974167
23.  SNP-o-matic 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(18):2434-2435.
Motivation: High throughput sequencing technologies generate large amounts of short reads. Mapping these to a reference sequence consumes large amounts of processing time and memory, and read mapping errors can lead to noisy or incorrect alignments. SNP-o-matic is a fast, memory-efficient and stringent read mapping tool offering a variety of analytical output functions, with an emphasis on genotyping.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2735664  PMID: 19574284
24.  Using Galaxy to Perform Large-Scale Interactive Data Analyses 
Innovations in biomedical research technologies continue to provide experimental biologists with novel and increasingly large genomic and high-throughput data resources to be analyzed. As creating and obtaining data has become easier, the key decision faced by many researchers is a practical one: where and how should an analysis be performed? Datasets are large and analysis tool set-up and use is riddled with complexities outside of the scope of core research activities. The authors believe that Galaxy ( provides a powerful solution that simplifies data acquisition and analysis in an intuitive web-application, granting all researchers access to key informatics tools previously only available to computational specialists working in Unix-based environments. We will demonstrate through a series of biomedically relevant protocols how Galaxy specifically brings together 1) data retrieval from public and private sources, for example, UCSC’s Eukaryote and Microbial Genome Browsers (, 2) custom tools (wrapped Unix functions, format standardization/conversions, interval operations) and 3rd party analysis tools, for example, Bowtie/Tuxedo Suite (, Lastz (, SAMTools (, FASTX-toolkit (, and MACS (, and creates results formatted for visualization in tools such as the Galaxy Track Browser (GTB,, UCSC Genome Browser (, Ensembl (, and GeneTrack (
Galaxy rapidly has become the most popular choice for integrated next generation sequencing (NGS) analytics and collaboration, where users can perform, document, and share complex analysis within a single interface in an unprecedented number of ways.
PMCID: PMC3418382  PMID: 18428782
comparative genomics; genomic alignments; Web application; genome variation
25.  Fast Statistical Alignment 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(5):e1000392.
We describe a new program for the alignment of multiple biological sequences that is both statistically motivated and fast enough for problem sizes that arise in practice. Our Fast Statistical Alignment program is based on pair hidden Markov models which approximate an insertion/deletion process on a tree and uses a sequence annealing algorithm to combine the posterior probabilities estimated from these models into a multiple alignment. FSA uses its explicit statistical model to produce multiple alignments which are accompanied by estimates of the alignment accuracy and uncertainty for every column and character of the alignment—previously available only with alignment programs which use computationally-expensive Markov Chain Monte Carlo approaches—yet can align thousands of long sequences. Moreover, FSA utilizes an unsupervised query-specific learning procedure for parameter estimation which leads to improved accuracy on benchmark reference alignments in comparison to existing programs. The centroid alignment approach taken by FSA, in combination with its learning procedure, drastically reduces the amount of false-positive alignment on biological data in comparison to that given by other methods. The FSA program and a companion visualization tool for exploring uncertainty in alignments can be used via a web interface at, and the source code is available at
Author Summary
Biological sequence alignment is one of the fundamental problems in comparative genomics, yet it remains unsolved. Over sixty sequence alignment programs are listed on Wikipedia, and many new programs are published every year. However, many popular programs suffer from pathologies such as aligning unrelated sequences and producing discordant alignments in protein (amino acid) and codon (nucleotide) space, casting doubt on the accuracy of the inferred alignments. Inaccurate alignments can introduce large and unknown systematic biases into downstream analyses such as phylogenetic tree reconstruction and substitution rate estimation. We describe a new program for multiple sequence alignment which can align protein, RNA and DNA sequence and improves on the accuracy of existing approaches on benchmarks of protein and RNA structural alignments and simulated mammalian and fly genomic alignments. Our approach, which seeks to find the alignment which is closest to the truth under our statistical model, leaves unrelated sequences largely unaligned and produces concordant alignments in protein and codon space. It is fast enough for difficult problems such as aligning orthologous genomic regions or aligning hundreds or thousands of proteins. It furthermore has a companion GUI for visualizing the estimated alignment reliability.
PMCID: PMC2684580  PMID: 19478997

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