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1.  The MaSuRCA genome assembler 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(21):2669-2677.
Motivation: Second-generation sequencing technologies produce high coverage of the genome by short reads at a low cost, which has prompted development of new assembly methods. In particular, multiple algorithms based on de Bruijn graphs have been shown to be effective for the assembly problem. In this article, we describe a new hybrid approach that has the computational efficiency of de Bruijn graph methods and the flexibility of overlap-based assembly strategies, and which allows variable read lengths while tolerating a significant level of sequencing error. Our method transforms large numbers of paired-end reads into a much smaller number of longer ‘super-reads’. The use of super-reads allows us to assemble combinations of Illumina reads of differing lengths together with longer reads from 454 and Sanger sequencing technologies, making it one of the few assemblers capable of handling such mixtures. We call our system the Maryland Super-Read Celera Assembler (abbreviated MaSuRCA and pronounced ‘mazurka’).
Results: We evaluate the performance of MaSuRCA against two of the most widely used assemblers for Illumina data, Allpaths-LG and SOAPdenovo2, on two datasets from organisms for which high-quality assemblies are available: the bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides and chromosome 16 of the mouse genome. We show that MaSuRCA performs on par or better than Allpaths-LG and significantly better than SOAPdenovo on these data, when evaluated against the finished sequence. We then show that MaSuRCA can significantly improve its assemblies when the original data are augmented with long reads.
Availability: MaSuRCA is available as open-source code at Previous (pre-publication) releases have been publicly available for over a year.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3799473  PMID: 23990416
2.  AutoAssemblyD: a graphical user interface system for several genome assemblers 
Bioinformation  2013;9(16):840-841.
Next-generation sequencing technologies have increased the amount of biological data generated. Thus, bioinformatics has become important because new methods and algorithms are necessary to manipulate and process such data. However, certain challenges have emerged, such as genome assembly using short reads and high-throughput platforms. In this context, several algorithms have been developed, such as Velvet, Abyss, Euler-SR, Mira, Edna, Maq, SHRiMP, Newbler, ALLPATHS, Bowtie and BWA. However, most such assemblers do not have a graphical interface, which makes their use difficult for users without computing experience given the complexity of the assembler syntax. Thus, to make the operation of such assemblers accessible to users without a computing background, we developed AutoAssemblyD, which is a graphical tool for genome assembly submission and remote management by multiple assemblers through XML templates.
AssemblyD is freely available at It requires Sun jdk 6 or higher.
PMCID: PMC3796888  PMID: 24143057
Next-generation sequencing; Genome Assembly; Bioinformatics
3.  An improved genome release (version Mt4.0) for the model legume Medicago truncatula 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:312.
Medicago truncatula, a close relative of alfalfa, is a preeminent model for studying nitrogen fixation, symbiosis, and legume genomics. The Medicago sequencing project began in 2003 with the goal to decipher sequences originated from the euchromatic portion of the genome. The initial sequencing approach was based on a BAC tiling path, culminating in a BAC-based assembly (Mt3.5) as well as an in-depth analysis of the genome published in 2011.
Here we describe a further improved and refined version of the M. truncatula genome (Mt4.0) based on de novo whole genome shotgun assembly of a majority of Illumina and 454 reads using ALLPATHS-LG. The ALLPATHS-LG scaffolds were anchored onto the pseudomolecules on the basis of alignments to both the optical map and the genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) map. The Mt4.0 pseudomolecules encompass ~360 Mb of actual sequences spanning 390 Mb of which ~330 Mb align perfectly with the optical map, presenting a drastic improvement over the BAC-based Mt3.5 which only contained 70% sequences (~250 Mb) of the current version. Most of the sequences and genes that previously resided on the unanchored portion of Mt3.5 have now been incorporated into the Mt4.0 pseudomolecules, with the exception of ~28 Mb of unplaced sequences. With regard to gene annotation, the genome has been re-annotated through our gene prediction pipeline, which integrates EST, RNA-seq, protein and gene prediction evidences. A total of 50,894 genes (31,661 high confidence and 19,233 low confidence) are included in Mt4.0 which overlapped with ~82% of the gene loci annotated in Mt3.5. Of the remaining genes, 14% of the Mt3.5 genes have been deprecated to an “unsupported” status and 4% are absent from the Mt4.0 predictions.
Mt4.0 and its associated resources, such as genome browsers, BLAST-able datasets and gene information pages, can be found on the JCVI Medicago web site ( The assembly and annotation has been deposited in GenBank (BioProject: PRJNA10791). The heavily curated chromosomal sequences and associated gene models of Medicago will serve as a better reference for legume biology and comparative genomics.
PMCID: PMC4234490  PMID: 24767513
Medicago; Legume; Genome assembly; Gene annotation; Optical map
4.  Assembly Algorithms for Next-Generation Sequencing Data 
Genomics  2010;95(6):315-327.
The emergence of next-generation sequencing platforms led to resurgence of research in whole-genome shotgun assembly algorithms and software. DNA sequencing data from the Roche 454, Illumina/Solexa, and ABI SOLiD platforms typically present shorter read lengths, higher coverage, and different error profiles compared with Sanger sequencing data. Since 2005, several assembly software packages have been created or revised specifically for de novo assembly of next-generation sequencing data. This review summarizes and compares the published descriptions of packages named SSAKE, SHARCGS, VCAKE, Newbler, Celera Assembler, Euler, Velvet, ABySS, AllPaths, and SOAPdenovo. More generally, it compares the two standard methods known as the de Bruijn graph approach and the overlap/layout/consensus approach to assembly.
PMCID: PMC2874646  PMID: 20211242
genome assembly algorithms; next-generation sequencing
5.  MetaVelvet: an extension of Velvet assembler to de novo metagenome assembly from short sequence reads 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(20):e155.
An important step in ‘metagenomics’ analysis is the assembly of multiple genomes from mixed sequence reads of multiple species in a microbial community. Most conventional pipelines use a single-genome assembler with carefully optimized parameters. A limitation of a single-genome assembler for de novo metagenome assembly is that sequences of highly abundant species are likely misidentified as repeats in a single genome, resulting in a number of small fragmented scaffolds. We extended a single-genome assembler for short reads, known as ‘Velvet’, to metagenome assembly, which we called ‘MetaVelvet’, for mixed short reads of multiple species. Our fundamental concept was to first decompose a de Bruijn graph constructed from mixed short reads into individual sub-graphs, and second, to build scaffolds based on each decomposed de Bruijn sub-graph as an isolate species genome. We made use of two features, the coverage (abundance) difference and graph connectivity, for the decomposition of the de Bruijn graph. For simulated datasets, MetaVelvet succeeded in generating significantly higher N50 scores than any single-genome assemblers. MetaVelvet also reconstructed relatively low-coverage genome sequences as scaffolds. On real datasets of human gut microbial read data, MetaVelvet produced longer scaffolds and increased the number of predicted genes.
PMCID: PMC3488206  PMID: 22821567
6.  Short read Illumina data for the de novo assembly of a non-model snail species transcriptome (Radix balthica, Basommatophora, Pulmonata), and a comparison of assembler performance 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:317.
Until recently, read lengths on the Solexa/Illumina system were too short to reliably assemble transcriptomes without a reference sequence, especially for non-model organisms. However, with read lengths up to 100 nucleotides available in the current version, an assembly without reference genome should be possible. For this study we created an EST data set for the common pond snail Radix balthica by Illumina sequencing of a normalized transcriptome. Performance of three different short read assemblers was compared with respect to: the number of contigs, their length, depth of coverage, their quality in various BLAST searches and the alignment to mitochondrial genes.
A single sequencing run of a normalized RNA pool resulted in 16,923,850 paired end reads with median read length of 61 bases. The assemblies generated by VELVET, OASES, and SeqMan NGEN differed in the total number of contigs, contig length, the number and quality of gene hits obtained by BLAST searches against various databases, and contig performance in the mt genome comparison. While VELVET produced the highest overall number of contigs, a large fraction of these were of small size (< 200bp), and gave redundant hits in BLAST searches and the mt genome alignment. The best overall contig performance resulted from the NGEN assembly. It produced the second largest number of contigs, which on average were comparable to the OASES contigs but gave the highest number of gene hits in two out of four BLAST searches against different reference databases. A subsequent meta-assembly of the four contig sets resulted in larger contigs, less redundancy and a higher number of BLAST hits.
Our results document the first de novo transcriptome assembly of a non-model species using Illumina sequencing data. We show that de novo transcriptome assembly using this approach yields results useful for downstream applications, in particular if a meta-assembly of contig sets is used to increase contig quality. These results highlight the ongoing need for improvements in assembly methodology.
PMCID: PMC3128070  PMID: 21679424
next generation sequencing; short read assembly; Mollusca
7.  De novo Assembly of a 40 Mb Eukaryotic Genome from Short Sequence Reads: Sordaria macrospora, a Model Organism for Fungal Morphogenesis 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(4):e1000891.
Filamentous fungi are of great importance in ecology, agriculture, medicine, and biotechnology. Thus, it is not surprising that genomes for more than 100 filamentous fungi have been sequenced, most of them by Sanger sequencing. While next-generation sequencing techniques have revolutionized genome resequencing, e.g. for strain comparisons, genetic mapping, or transcriptome and ChIP analyses, de novo assembly of eukaryotic genomes still presents significant hurdles, because of their large size and stretches of repetitive sequences. Filamentous fungi contain few repetitive regions in their 30–90 Mb genomes and thus are suitable candidates to test de novo genome assembly from short sequence reads. Here, we present a high-quality draft sequence of the Sordaria macrospora genome that was obtained by a combination of Illumina/Solexa and Roche/454 sequencing. Paired-end Solexa sequencing of genomic DNA to 85-fold coverage and an additional 10-fold coverage by single-end 454 sequencing resulted in ∼4 Gb of DNA sequence. Reads were assembled to a 40 Mb draft version (N50 of 117 kb) with the Velvet assembler. Comparative analysis with Neurospora genomes increased the N50 to 498 kb. The S. macrospora genome contains even fewer repeat regions than its closest sequenced relative, Neurospora crassa. Comparison with genomes of other fungi showed that S. macrospora, a model organism for morphogenesis and meiosis, harbors duplications of several genes involved in self/nonself-recognition. Furthermore, S. macrospora contains more polyketide biosynthesis genes than N. crassa. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that some of these genes may have been acquired by horizontal gene transfer from a distantly related ascomycete group. Our study shows that, for typical filamentous fungi, de novo assembly of genomes from short sequence reads alone is feasible, that a mixture of Solexa and 454 sequencing substantially improves the assembly, and that the resulting data can be used for comparative studies to address basic questions of fungal biology.
Author Summary
Fungi have immense impacts on ecosystems and affect many aspects of society. They are used as convenient organisms for fundamental research because their typically haploid genetics enable straightforward phenotyping of mutations and because most fungal cells can differentiate the entire organism. Fungi have compact genomes with few repetitive sequences, and their genomes should be much easier to assemble from short sequence reads than genomes of mammals or higher plants. To test this idea, we used Solexa and 454 sequencing to generate ∼4 Gb of raw sequence data from the filamentous fungus Sordaria macrospora. De novo assembly yielded 5,097 contigs. This assembly was improved by comparison with reference genomes of three closely related Neurospora species, resulting in placement of ∼40 Mb of genome sequence in 152 scaffolds. From comparisons of predicted proteins we conclude that S. macrospora carries a conserved set of genes for signaling and development, which should encourage its further use as a model organism for morphogenesis and meiosis. We demonstrate that de novo assembly of fungal genomes from short reads is cheap and efficient. Species that are not traditionally considered “model organisms” but await genome sequencing for comparative and functional genomics analyses are at last amenable to in-depth genome-wide analyses.
PMCID: PMC2851567  PMID: 20386741
8.  Assembly and annotation of a non-model gastropod (Nerita melanotragus) transcriptome: a comparison of De novo assemblers 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:488.
The sequencing, de novo assembly and annotation of transcriptome datasets generated with next generation sequencing (NGS) has enabled biologists to answer genomic questions in non-model species with unprecedented ease. Reliable and accurate de novo assembly and annotation of transcriptomes, however, is a critically important step for transcriptome assemblies generated from short read sequences. Typical benchmarks for assembly and annotation reliability have been performed with model species. To address the reliability and accuracy of de novo transcriptome assembly in non-model species, we generated an RNAseq dataset for an intertidal gastropod mollusc species, Nerita melanotragus, and compared the assembly produced by four different de novo transcriptome assemblers; Velvet, Oases, Geneious and Trinity, for a number of quality metrics and redundancy.
Transcriptome sequencing on the Ion Torrent PGM™ produced 1,883,624 raw reads with a mean length of 133 base pairs (bp). Both the Trinity and Oases de novo assemblers produced the best assemblies based on all quality metrics including fewer contigs, increased N50 and average contig length and contigs of greater length. Overall the BLAST and annotation success of our assemblies was not high with only 15-19% of contigs assigned a putative function.
We believe that any improvement in annotation success of gastropod species will require more gastropod genome sequences, but in particular an increase in mollusc protein sequences in public databases. Overall, this paper demonstrates that reliable and accurate de novo transcriptome assemblies can be generated from short read sequencers with the right assembly algorithms.
PMCID: PMC4124492  PMID: 25084827
Nerita melanotragus; De novo assembly; Transcriptome; Heat shock protein; Ion torrent
9.  A pilot study for channel catfish whole genome sequencing and de novo assembly 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:629.
Recent advances in next-generation sequencing technologies have drastically increased throughput and significantly reduced sequencing costs. However, the average read lengths in next-generation sequencing technologies are short as compared with that of traditional Sanger sequencing. The short sequence reads pose great challenges for de novo sequence assembly. As a pilot project for whole genome sequencing of the catfish genome, here we attempt to determine the proper sequence coverage, the proper software for assembly, and various parameters used for the assembly of a BAC physical map contig spanning approximately a million of base pairs.
A combination of low sequence coverage of 454 and Illumina sequencing appeared to provide effective assembly as reflected by a high N50 value. Using 454 sequencing alone, a sequencing depth of 18 X was sufficient to obtain the good quality assembly, whereas a 70 X Illumina appeared to be sufficient for a good quality assembly. Additional sequencing coverage after 18 X of 454 or after 70 X of Illumina sequencing does not provide significant improvement of the assembly. Considering the cost of sequencing, a 2 X 454 sequencing, when coupled to 70 X Illumina sequencing, provided an assembly of reasonably good quality. With several software tested, Newbler with a seed length of 16 and ABySS with a K-value of 60 appear to be appropriate for the assembly of 454 reads alone and Illumina paired-end reads alone, respectively. Using both 454 and Illumina paired-end reads, a hybrid assembly strategy using Newbler for initial 454 sequence assembly, Velvet for initial Illumina sequence assembly, followed by a second step assembly using MIRA provided the best assembly of the physical map contig, resulting in 193 contigs with a N50 value of 13,123 bp.
A hybrid sequencing strategy using low sequencing depth of 454 and high sequencing depth of Illumina provided the good quality assembly with high N50 value and relatively low cost. A combination of Newbler, Velvet, and MIRA can be used to assemble the 454 sequence reads and the Illumina reads effectively. The assembled sequence can serve as a resource for comparative genome analysis. Additional long reads using the third generation sequencing platforms are needed to sequence through repetitive genome regions that should further enhance the sequence assembly.
PMCID: PMC3266365  PMID: 22192763
10.  Evaluation and validation of de novo and hybrid assembly techniques to derive high-quality genome sequences 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(19):2709-2716.
Motivation: To assess the potential of different types of sequence data combined with de novo and hybrid assembly approaches to improve existing draft genome sequences.
Results: Illumina, 454 and PacBio sequencing technologies were used to generate de novo and hybrid genome assemblies for four different bacteria, which were assessed for quality using summary statistics (e.g. number of contigs, N50) and in silico evaluation tools. Differences in predictions of multiple copies of rDNA operons for each respective bacterium were evaluated by PCR and Sanger sequencing, and then the validated results were applied as an additional criterion to rank assemblies. In general, assemblies using longer PacBio reads were better able to resolve repetitive regions. In this study, the combination of Illumina and PacBio sequence data assembled through the ALLPATHS-LG algorithm gave the best summary statistics and most accurate rDNA operon number predictions. This study will aid others looking to improve existing draft genome assemblies.
Availability and implementation: All assembly tools except CLC Genomics Workbench are freely available under GNU General Public License.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4173024  PMID: 24930142
11.  Parallelized short read assembly of large genomes using de Bruijn graphs 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:354.
Next-generation sequencing technologies have given rise to the explosive increase in DNA sequencing throughput, and have promoted the recent development of de novo short read assemblers. However, existing assemblers require high execution times and a large amount of compute resources to assemble large genomes from quantities of short reads.
We present PASHA, a parallelized short read assembler using de Bruijn graphs, which takes advantage of hybrid computing architectures consisting of both shared-memory multi-core CPUs and distributed-memory compute clusters to gain efficiency and scalability. Evaluation using three small-scale real paired-end datasets shows that PASHA is able to produce more contiguous high-quality assemblies in shorter time compared to three leading assemblers: Velvet, ABySS and SOAPdenovo. PASHA's scalability for large genome datasets is demonstrated with human genome assembly. Compared to ABySS, PASHA achieves competitive assembly quality with faster execution speed on the same compute resources, yielding an NG50 contig size of 503 with the longest correct contig size of 18,252, and an NG50 scaffold size of 2,294. Moreover, the human assembly is completed in about 21 hours with only modest compute resources.
Developing parallel assemblers for large genomes has been garnering significant research efforts due to the explosive size growth of high-throughput short read datasets. By employing hybrid parallelism consisting of multi-threading on multi-core CPUs and message passing on compute clusters, PASHA is able to assemble the human genome with high quality and in reasonable time using modest compute resources.
PMCID: PMC3167803  PMID: 21867511
12.  Genome sequencing of bacteria: sequencing, de novo assembly and rapid analysis using open source tools 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:211.
De novo genome sequencing of previously uncharacterized microorganisms has the potential to open up new frontiers in microbial genomics by providing insight into both functional capabilities and biodiversity. Until recently, Roche 454 pyrosequencing was the NGS method of choice for de novo assembly because it generates hundreds of thousands of long reads (<450 bps), which are presumed to aid in the analysis of uncharacterized genomes. The array of tools for processing NGS data are increasingly free and open source and are often adopted for both their high quality and role in promoting academic freedom.
The error rate of pyrosequencing the Alcanivorax borkumensis genome was such that thousands of insertions and deletions were artificially introduced into the finished genome. Despite a high coverage (~30 fold), it did not allow the reference genome to be fully mapped. Reads from regions with errors had low quality, low coverage, or were missing. The main defect of the reference mapping was the introduction of artificial indels into contigs through lower than 100% consensus and distracting gene calling due to artificial stop codons. No assembler was able to perform de novo assembly comparable to reference mapping. Automated annotation tools performed similarly on reference mapped and de novo draft genomes, and annotated most CDSs in the de novo assembled draft genomes.
Free and open source software (FOSS) tools for assembly and annotation of NGS data are being developed rapidly to provide accurate results with less computational effort. Usability is not high priority and these tools currently do not allow the data to be processed without manual intervention. Despite this, genome assemblers now readily assemble medium short reads into long contigs (>97-98% genome coverage). A notable gap in pyrosequencing technology is the quality of base pair calling and conflicting base pairs between single reads at the same nucleotide position. Regardless, using draft whole genomes that are not finished and remain fragmented into tens of contigs allows one to characterize unknown bacteria with modest effort.
PMCID: PMC3618134  PMID: 23547799
Reference mapping; De novo sequencing; De novo assembly; Automated annotation; Marine bacteria
13.  PERGA: A Paired-End Read Guided De Novo Assembler for Extending Contigs Using SVM and Look Ahead Approach 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114253.
Since the read lengths of high throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies are short, de novo assembly which plays significant roles in many applications remains a great challenge. Most of the state-of-the-art approaches base on de Bruijn graph strategy and overlap-layout strategy. However, these approaches which depend on k-mers or read overlaps do not fully utilize information of paired-end and single-end reads when resolving branches. Since they treat all single-end reads with overlapped length larger than a fix threshold equally, they fail to use the more confident long overlapped reads for assembling and mix up with the relative short overlapped reads. Moreover, these approaches have not been special designed for handling tandem repeats (repeats occur adjacently in the genome) and they usually break down the contigs near the tandem repeats. We present PERGA (Paired-End Reads Guided Assembler), a novel sequence-reads-guided de novo assembly approach, which adopts greedy-like prediction strategy for assembling reads to contigs and scaffolds using paired-end reads and different read overlap size ranging from Omax to Omin to resolve the gaps and branches. By constructing a decision model using machine learning approach based on branch features, PERGA can determine the correct extension in 99.7% of cases. When the correct extension cannot be determined, PERGA will try to extend the contig by all feasible extensions and determine the correct extension by using look-ahead approach. Many difficult-resolved branches are due to tandem repeats which are close in the genome. PERGA detects such different copies of the repeats to resolve the branches to make the extension much longer and more accurate. We evaluated PERGA on both Illumina real and simulated datasets ranging from small bacterial genomes to large human chromosome, and it constructed longer and more accurate contigs and scaffolds than other state-of-the-art assemblers. PERGA can be freely downloaded at
PMCID: PMC4252104  PMID: 25461763
14.  Comparison of different assembly and annotation tools on analysis of simulated viral metagenomic communities in the gut 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:37.
The main limitations in the analysis of viral metagenomes are perhaps the high genetic variability and the lack of information in extant databases. To address these issues, several bioinformatic tools have been specifically designed or adapted for metagenomics by improving read assembly and creating more sensitive methods for homology detection. This study compares the performance of different available assemblers and taxonomic annotation software using simulated viral-metagenomic data.
We simulated two 454 viral metagenomes using genomes from NCBI's RefSeq database based on the list of actual viruses found in previously published metagenomes. Three different assembly strategies, spanning six assemblers, were tested for performance: overlap-layout-consensus algorithms Newbler, Celera and Minimo; de Bruijn graphs algorithms Velvet and MetaVelvet; and read probabilistic model Genovo. The performance of the assemblies was measured by the length of resulting contigs (using N50), the percentage of reads assembled and the overall accuracy when comparing against corresponding reference genomes. Additionally, the number of chimeras per contig and the lowest common ancestor were estimated in order to assess the effect of assembling on taxonomic and functional annotation. The functional classification of the reads was evaluated by counting the reads that correctly matched the functional data previously reported for the original genomes and calculating the number of over-represented functional categories in chimeric contigs. The sensitivity and specificity of tBLASTx, PhymmBL and the k-mer frequencies were measured by accurate predictions when comparing simulated reads against the NCBI Virus genomes RefSeq database.
Assembling improves functional annotation by increasing accurate assignations and decreasing ambiguous hits between viruses and bacteria. However, the success is limited by the chimeric contigs occurring at all taxonomic levels. The assembler and its parameters should be selected based on the focus of each study. Minimo's non-chimeric contigs and Genovo's long contigs excelled in taxonomy assignation and functional annotation, respectively.
tBLASTx stood out as the best approach for taxonomic annotation for virus identification. PhymmBL proved useful in datasets in which no related sequences are present as it uses genomic features that may help identify distant taxa. The k-frequencies underperformed in all viral datasets.
PMCID: PMC3901335  PMID: 24438450
Viral metagenome; Assembler performance; Taxonomic classification; Chimera identification; Functional annotation
15.  Whole genome sequencing of peach (Prunus persica L.) for SNP identification and selection 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:569.
The application of next generation sequencing technologies and bioinformatic scripts to identify high frequency SNPs distributed throughout the peach genome is described. Three peach genomes were sequenced using Roche 454 and Illumina/Solexa technologies to obtain long contigs for alignment to the draft 'Lovell' peach sequence as well as sufficient depth of coverage for 'in silico' SNP discovery.
The sequences were aligned to the 'Lovell' peach genome released April 01, 2010 by the International Peach Genome Initiative (IPGI). 'Dr. Davis', 'F8, 1-42' and 'Georgia Belle' were sequenced to add SNPs segregating in two breeding populations, Pop DF ('Dr. Davis' × 'F8, 1-42') and Pop DG ('Dr. Davis' × 'Georgia Belle'). Roche 454 sequencing produced 980,000 total reads with 236 Mb sequence for 'Dr. Davis' and 735,000 total reads with 172 Mb sequence for 'F8, 1-42'. 84 bp × 84 bp paired end Illumina/Solexa sequences yielded 25.5, 21.4, 25.5 million sequences for 'Dr. Davis', 'F8, 1-42' and 'Georgia Belle', respectively. BWA/SAMtools were used for alignment of raw reads and SNP detection, with custom PERL scripts for SNP filtering. Velvet's Columbus module was used for sequence assembly. Comparison of aligned and overlapping sequences from both Roche 454 and Illumina/Solexa resulted in the selection of 6654 high quality SNPs for 'Dr. Davis' vs. 'F8, 1-42' and 'Georgia Belle', distributed on eight major peach genome scaffolds as defined from the 'Lovell' assembly.
The eight scaffolds contained about 215-225 Mb of peach genomic sequences with one SNP/~ 40,000 bases. All sequences from Roche 454 and Illumina/Solexa have been submitted to NCBI for public use in the Short Read Archive database. SNPs have been deposited in the NCBI SNP database.
PMCID: PMC3253712  PMID: 22108025
16.  Assembling Single-Cell Genomes and Mini-Metagenomes From Chimeric MDA Products 
Journal of Computational Biology  2013;20(10):714-737.
Recent advances in single-cell genomics provide an alternative to largely gene-centric metagenomics studies, enabling whole-genome sequencing of uncultivated bacteria. However, single-cell assembly projects are challenging due to (i) the highly nonuniform read coverage and (ii) a greatly elevated number of chimeric reads and read pairs. While recently developed single-cell assemblers have addressed the former challenge, methods for assembling highly chimeric reads remain poorly explored. We present algorithms for identifying chimeric edges and resolving complex bulges in de Bruijn graphs, which significantly improve single-cell assemblies. We further describe applications of the single-cell assembler SPAdes to a new approach for capturing and sequencing “microbial dark matter” that forms small pools of randomly selected single cells (called a mini-metagenome) and further sequences all genomes from the mini-metagenome at once. On single-cell bacterial datasets, SPAdes improves on the recently developed E+V-SC and IDBA-UD assemblers specifically designed for single-cell sequencing. For standard (cultivated monostrain) datasets, SPAdes also improves on A5, ABySS, CLC, EULER-SR, Ray, SOAPdenovo, and Velvet. Thus, recently developed single-cell assemblers not only enable single-cell sequencing, but also improve on conventional assemblers on their own turf. SPAdes is available for free online download under a GPLv2 license.
PMCID: PMC3791033  PMID: 24093227
bacterial assembly; chimeric reads; de Bruijn graph; multiple displacement amplification (MDA); single cell
17.  SOPRA: Scaffolding algorithm for paired reads via statistical optimization 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:345.
High throughput sequencing (HTS) platforms produce gigabases of short read (<100 bp) data per run. While these short reads are adequate for resequencing applications, de novo assembly of moderate size genomes from such reads remains a significant challenge. These limitations could be partially overcome by utilizing mate pair technology, which provides pairs of short reads separated by a known distance along the genome.
We have developed SOPRA, a tool designed to exploit the mate pair/paired-end information for assembly of short reads. The main focus of the algorithm is selecting a sufficiently large subset of simultaneously satisfiable mate pair constraints to achieve a balance between the size and the quality of the output scaffolds. Scaffold assembly is presented as an optimization problem for variables associated with vertices and with edges of the contig connectivity graph. Vertices of this graph are individual contigs with edges drawn between contigs connected by mate pairs. Similar graph problems have been invoked in the context of shotgun sequencing and scaffold building for previous generation of sequencing projects. However, given the error-prone nature of HTS data and the fundamental limitations from the shortness of the reads, the ad hoc greedy algorithms used in the earlier studies are likely to lead to poor quality results in the current context. SOPRA circumvents this problem by treating all the constraints on equal footing for solving the optimization problem, the solution itself indicating the problematic constraints (chimeric/repetitive contigs, etc.) to be removed. The process of solving and removing of constraints is iterated till one reaches a core set of consistent constraints. For SOLiD sequencer data, SOPRA uses a dynamic programming approach to robustly translate the color-space assembly to base-space. For assessing the quality of an assembly, we report the no-match/mismatch error rate as well as the rates of various rearrangement errors.
Applying SOPRA to real data from bacterial genomes, we were able to assemble contigs into scaffolds of significant length (N50 up to 200 Kb) with very few errors introduced in the process. In general, the methodology presented here will allow better scaffold assemblies of any type of mate pair sequencing data.
PMCID: PMC2909219  PMID: 20576136
18.  Pseudo-Sanger sequencing: massively parallel production of long and near error-free reads using NGS technology 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):711.
Usually, next generation sequencing (NGS) technology has the property of ultra-high throughput but the read length is remarkably short compared to conventional Sanger sequencing. Paired-end NGS could computationally extend the read length but with a lot of practical inconvenience because of the inherent gaps. Now that Illumina paired-end sequencing has the ability of read both ends from 600 bp or even 800 bp DNA fragments, how to fill in the gaps between paired ends to produce accurate long reads is intriguing but challenging.
We have developed a new technology, referred to as pseudo-Sanger (PS) sequencing. It tries to fill in the gaps between paired ends and could generate near error-free sequences equivalent to the conventional Sanger reads in length but with the high throughput of the Next Generation Sequencing. The major novelty of PS method lies on that the gap filling is based on local assembly of paired-end reads which have overlaps with at either end. Thus, we are able to fill in the gaps in repetitive genomic region correctly. The PS sequencing starts with short reads from NGS platforms, using a series of paired-end libraries of stepwise decreasing insert sizes. A computational method is introduced to transform these special paired-end reads into long and near error-free PS sequences, which correspond in length to those with the largest insert sizes. The PS construction has 3 advantages over untransformed reads: gap filling, error correction and heterozygote tolerance. Among the many applications of the PS construction is de novo genome assembly, which we tested in this study. Assembly of PS reads from a non-isogenic strain of Drosophila melanogaster yields an N50 contig of 190 kb, a 5 fold improvement over the existing de novo assembly methods and a 3 fold advantage over the assembly of long reads from 454 sequencing.
Our method generated near error-free long reads from NGS paired-end sequencing. We demonstrated that de novo assembly could benefit a lot from these Sanger-like reads. Besides, the characteristic of the long reads could be applied to such applications as structural variations detection and metagenomics.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-711) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4046676  PMID: 24134808
Next-generation sequencing; Gap filling; Genome assembly
19.  Optimizing Information in Next-Generation-Sequencing (NGS) Reads for Improving De Novo Genome Assembly 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69503.
Next-Generation-Sequencing is advantageous because of its much higher data throughput and much lower cost compared with the traditional Sanger method. However, NGS reads are shorter than Sanger reads, making de novo genome assembly very challenging. Because genome assembly is essential for all downstream biological studies, great efforts have been made to enhance the completeness of genome assembly, which requires the presence of long reads or long distance information. To improve de novo genome assembly, we develop a computational program, ARF-PE, to increase the length of Illumina reads. ARF-PE takes as input Illumina paired-end (PE) reads and recovers the original DNA fragments from which two ends the paired reads are obtained. On the PE data of four bacteria, ARF-PE recovered >87% of the DNA fragments and achieved >98% of perfect DNA fragment recovery. Using Velvet, SOAPdenovo, Newbler, and CABOG, we evaluated the benefits of recovered DNA fragments to genome assembly. For all four bacteria, the recovered DNA fragments increased the assembly contiguity. For example, the N50 lengths of the P. brasiliensis contigs assembled by SOAPdenovo and Newbler increased from 80,524 bp to 166,573 bp and from 80,655 bp to 193,388 bp, respectively. ARF-PE also increased assembly accuracy in many cases. On the PE data of two fungi and a human chromosome, ARF-PE doubled and tripled the N50 length. However, the assembly accuracies dropped, but still remained >91%. In general, ARF-PE can increase both assembly contiguity and accuracy for bacterial genomes. For complex eukaryotic genomes, ARF-PE is promising because it raises assembly contiguity. But future error correction is needed for ARF-PE to also increase the assembly accuracy. ARF-PE is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3726674  PMID: 23922726
20.  Comparison of assembly algorithms for improving rate of metatranscriptomic functional annotation 
Microbiome  2014;2:39.
Microbiome-wide gene expression profiling through high-throughput RNA sequencing (‘metatranscriptomics’) offers a powerful means to functionally interrogate complex microbial communities. Key to successful exploitation of these datasets is the ability to confidently match relatively short sequence reads to known bacterial transcripts. In the absence of reference genomes, such annotation efforts may be enhanced by assembling reads into longer contiguous sequences (‘contigs’), prior to database search strategies. Since reads from homologous transcripts may derive from several species, represented at different abundance levels, it is not clear how well current assembly pipelines perform for metatranscriptomic datasets. Here we evaluate the performance of four currently employed assemblers including de novo transcriptome assemblers - Trinity and Oases; the metagenomic assembler - Metavelvet; and the recently developed metatranscriptomic assembler IDBA-MT.
We evaluated the performance of the assemblers on a previously published dataset of single-end RNA sequence reads derived from the large intestine of an inbred non-obese diabetic mouse model of type 1 diabetes. We found that Trinity performed best as judged by contigs assembled, reads assigned to contigs, and number of reads that could be annotated to a known bacterial transcript. Only 15.5% of RNA sequence reads could be annotated to a known transcript in contrast to 50.3% with Trinity assembly. Paired-end reads generated from the same mouse samples resulted in modest performance gains. A database search estimated that the assemblies are unlikely to erroneously merge multiple unrelated genes sharing a region of similarity (<2% of contigs). A simulated dataset based on ten species confirmed these findings. A more complex simulated dataset based on 72 species found that greater assembly errors were introduced than is expected by sequencing quality. Through the detailed evaluation of assembly performance, the insights provided by this study will help drive the design of future metatranscriptomic analyses.
Assembly of metatranscriptome datasets greatly improved read annotation. Of the four assemblers evaluated, Trinity provided the best performance. For more complex datasets, reads generated from transcripts sharing considerable sequence similarity can be a source of significant assembly error, suggesting a need to collate reads on the basis of common taxonomic origin prior to assembly.
PMCID: PMC4236897  PMID: 25411636
Microbiome; Metatranscriptomics; Sequence assembly; Bioinformatics; RNA sequencing
21.  MetaCluster-TA: taxonomic annotation for metagenomic data based on assembly-assisted binning 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(Suppl 1):S12.
Taxonomic annotation of reads is an important problem in metagenomic analysis. Existing annotation tools, which rely on the approach of aligning each read to the taxonomic structure, are unable to annotate many reads efficiently and accurately as reads (~100 bp) are short and most of them come from unknown genomes. Previous work has suggested assembling the reads to make longer contigs before annotation. More reads/contigs can be annotated as a longer contig (in Kbp) can be aligned to a taxon even if it is from an unknown species as long as it contains a conserved region of that taxon. Unfortunately existing metagenomic assembly tools are not mature enough to produce long enough contigs. Binning tries to group reads/contigs of similar species together. Intuitively, reads in the same group (cluster) should be annotated to the same taxon and these reads altogether should cover a significant portion of the genome alleviating the problem of short contigs if the quality of binning is high. However, no existing work has tried to use binning results to help solve the annotation problem. This work explores this direction.
In this paper, we describe MetaCluster-TA, an assembly-assisted binning-based annotation tool which relies on an innovative idea of annotating binned reads instead of aligning each read or contig to the taxonomic structure separately. We propose the novel concept of the 'virtual contig' (which can be up to 10 Kb in length) to represent a set of reads and then represent each cluster as a set of 'virtual contigs' (which together can be total up to 1 Mb in length) for annotation. MetaCluster-TA can outperform widely-used MEGAN4 and can annotate (1) more reads since the virtual contigs are much longer; (2) more accurately since each cluster of long virtual contigs contains global information of the sampled genome which tends to be more accurate than short reads or assembled contigs which contain only local information of the genome; and (3) more efficiently since there are much fewer long virtual contigs to align than short reads. MetaCluster-TA outperforms MetaCluster 5.0 as a binning tool since binning itself can be more sensitive and precise given long virtual contigs and the binning results can be improved using the reference taxonomic database.
MetaCluster-TA can outperform widely-used MEGAN4 and can annotate more reads with higher accuracy and higher efficiency. It also outperforms MetaCluster 5.0 as a binning tool.
PMCID: PMC4046714  PMID: 24564377
22.  Identification of Optimum Sequencing Depth Especially for De Novo Genome Assembly of Small Genomes Using Next Generation Sequencing Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60204.
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is a disruptive technology that has found widespread acceptance in the life sciences research community. The high throughput and low cost of sequencing has encouraged researchers to undertake ambitious genomic projects, especially in de novo genome sequencing. Currently, NGS systems generate sequence data as short reads and de novo genome assembly using these short reads is computationally very intensive. Due to lower cost of sequencing and higher throughput, NGS systems now provide the ability to sequence genomes at high depth. However, currently no report is available highlighting the impact of high sequence depth on genome assembly using real data sets and multiple assembly algorithms. Recently, some studies have evaluated the impact of sequence coverage, error rate and average read length on genome assembly using multiple assembly algorithms, however, these evaluations were performed using simulated datasets. One limitation of using simulated datasets is that variables such as error rates, read length and coverage which are known to impact genome assembly are carefully controlled. Hence, this study was undertaken to identify the minimum depth of sequencing required for de novo assembly for different sized genomes using graph based assembly algorithms and real datasets. Illumina reads for E.coli (4.6 MB) S.kudriavzevii (11.18 MB) and C.elegans (100 MB) were assembled using SOAPdenovo, Velvet, ABySS, Meraculous and IDBA-UD. Our analysis shows that 50X is the optimum read depth for assembling these genomes using all assemblers except Meraculous which requires 100X read depth. Moreover, our analysis shows that de novo assembly from 50X read data requires only 6–40 GB RAM depending on the genome size and assembly algorithm used. We believe that this information can be extremely valuable for researchers in designing experiments and multiplexing which will enable optimum utilization of sequencing as well as analysis resources.
PMCID: PMC3625192  PMID: 23593174
23.  Crystallizing short-read assemblies around seeds 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10(Suppl 1):S16.
New short-read sequencing technologies produce enormous volumes of 25–30 base paired-end reads. The resulting reads have vastly different characteristics than produced by Sanger sequencing, and require different approaches than the previous generation of sequence assemblers. In this paper, we present a short-read de novo assembler particularly targeted at the new ABI SOLiD sequencing technology.
This paper presents what we believe to be the first de novo sequence assembly results on real data from the emerging SOLiD platform, introduced by Applied Biosystems. Our assembler SHORTY augments short-paired reads using a trivially small number (5 – 10) of seeds of length 300 – 500 bp. These seeds enable us to produce significant assemblies using short-read coverage no more than 100×, which can be obtained in a single run of these high-capacity sequencers. SHORTY exploits two ideas which we believe to be of interest to the short-read assembly community: (1) using single seed reads to crystallize assemblies, and (2) estimating intercontig distances accurately from multiple spanning paired-end reads.
We demonstrate effective assemblies (N50 contig sizes ~40 kb) of three different bacterial species using simulated SOLiD data. Sequencing artifacts limit our performance on real data, however our results on this data are substantially better than those achieved by competing assemblers.
PMCID: PMC2648751  PMID: 19208115
24.  Meta-IDBA: a de Novo assembler for metagenomic data 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(13):i94-i101.
Motivation: Next-generation sequencing techniques allow us to generate reads from a microbial environment in order to analyze the microbial community. However, assembling of a set of mixed reads from different species to form contigs is a bottleneck of metagenomic research. Although there are many assemblers for assembling reads from a single genome, there are no assemblers for assembling reads in metagenomic data without reference genome sequences. Moreover, the performances of these assemblers on metagenomic data are far from satisfactory, because of the existence of common regions in the genomes of subspecies and species, which make the assembly problem much more complicated.
Results: We introduce the Meta-IDBA algorithm for assembling reads in metagenomic data, which contain multiple genomes from different species. There are two core steps in Meta-IDBA. It first tries to partition the de Bruijn graph into isolated components of different species based on an important observation. Then, for each component, it captures the slight variants of the genomes of subspecies from the same species by multiple alignments and represents the genome of one species, using a consensus sequence. Comparison of the performances of Meta-IDBA and existing assemblers, such as Velvet and Abyss for different metagenomic datasets shows that Meta-IDBA can reconstruct longer contigs with similar accuracy.
Availability: Meta-IDBA toolkit is available at our website
PMCID: PMC3117360  PMID: 21685107
25.  A comprehensive evaluation of assembly scaffolding tools 
Genome Biology  2014;15(3):R42.
Genome assembly is typically a two-stage process: contig assembly followed by the use of paired sequencing reads to join contigs into scaffolds. Scaffolds are usually the focus of reported assembly statistics; longer scaffolds greatly facilitate the use of genome sequences in downstream analyses, and it is appealing to present larger numbers as metrics of assembly performance. However, scaffolds are highly prone to errors, especially when generated using short reads, which can directly result in inflated assembly statistics.
Here we provide the first independent evaluation of scaffolding tools for second-generation sequencing data. We find large variations in the quality of results depending on the tool and dataset used. Even extremely simple test cases of perfect input, constructed to elucidate the behaviour of each algorithm, produced some surprising results. We further dissect the performance of the scaffolders using real and simulated sequencing data derived from the genomes of Staphylococcus aureus, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Plasmodium falciparum and Homo sapiens. The results from simulated data are of high quality, with several of the tools producing perfect output. However, at least 10% of joins remains unidentified when using real data.
The scaffolders vary in their usability, speed and number of correct and missed joins made between contigs. Results from real data highlight opportunities for further improvements of the tools. Overall, SGA, SOPRA and SSPACE generally outperform the other tools on our datasets. However, the quality of the results is highly dependent on the read mapper and genome complexity.
PMCID: PMC4053845  PMID: 24581555

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