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1.  Fast and accurate read alignment for resequencing 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(18):2366-2373.
Motivation: Next-generation sequence analysis has become an important task both in laboratory and clinical settings. A key stage in the majority sequence analysis workflows, such as resequencing, is the alignment of genomic reads to a reference genome. The accurate alignment of reads with large indels is a computationally challenging task for researchers.
Results: We introduce SeqAlto as a new algorithm for read alignment. For reads longer than or equal to 100 bp, SeqAlto is up to 10 × faster than existing algorithms, while retaining high accuracy and the ability to align reads with large (up to 50 bp) indels. This improvement in efficiency is particularly important in the analysis of future sequencing data where the number of reads approaches many billions. Furthermore, SeqAlto uses less than 8 GB of memory to align against the human genome. SeqAlto is benchmarked against several existing tools with both real and simulated data.
Availability: Linux and Mac OS X binaries free for academic use are available at
PMCID: PMC3436849  PMID: 22811546
2.  Evaluation and Comparison of Multiple Aligners for Next-Generation Sequencing Data Analysis 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:309650.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology has rapidly advanced and generated the massive data volumes. To align and map the NGS data, biologists often randomly select a number of aligners without concerning their suitable feature, high performance, and high accuracy as well as sequence variations and polymorphisms existing on reference genome. This study aims to systematically evaluate and compare the capability of multiple aligners for NGS data analysis. To explore this capability, we firstly performed alignment algorithms comparison and classification. We further used long-read and short-read datasets from both real-life and in silico NGS data for comparative analysis and evaluation of these aligners focusing on three criteria, namely, application-specific alignment feature, computational performance, and alignment accuracy. Our study demonstrated the overall evaluation and comparison of multiple aligners for NGS data analysis. This serves as an important guiding resource for biologists to gain further insight into suitable selection of aligners for specific and broad applications.
PMCID: PMC3980841  PMID: 24779008
3.  GASSST: global alignment short sequence search tool 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(20):2534-2540.
Motivation: The rapid development of next-generation sequencing technologies able to produce huge amounts of sequence data is leading to a wide range of new applications. This triggers the need for fast and accurate alignment software. Common techniques often restrict indels in the alignment to improve speed, whereas more flexible aligners are too slow for large-scale applications. Moreover, many current aligners are becoming inefficient as generated reads grow ever larger. Our goal with our new aligner GASSST (Global Alignment Short Sequence Search Tool) is thus 2-fold—achieving high performance with no restrictions on the number of indels with a design that is still effective on long reads.
Results: We propose a new efficient filtering step that discards most alignments coming from the seed phase before they are checked by the costly dynamic programming algorithm. We use a carefully designed series of filters of increasing complexity and efficiency to quickly eliminate most candidate alignments in a wide range of configurations. The main filter uses a precomputed table containing the alignment score of short four base words aligned against each other. This table is reused several times by a new algorithm designed to approximate the score of the full dynamic programming algorithm. We compare the performance of GASSST against BWA, BFAST, SSAHA2 and PASS. We found that GASSST achieves high sensitivity in a wide range of configurations and faster overall execution time than other state-of-the-art aligners.
Availability: GASSST is distributed under the CeCILL software license at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2951093  PMID: 20739310
4.  CloudBurst: highly sensitive read mapping with MapReduce 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(11):1363-1369.
Motivation: Next-generation DNA sequencing machines are generating an enormous amount of sequence data, placing unprecedented demands on traditional single-processor read-mapping algorithms. CloudBurst is a new parallel read-mapping algorithm optimized for mapping next-generation sequence data to the human genome and other reference genomes, for use in a variety of biological analyses including SNP discovery, genotyping and personal genomics. It is modeled after the short read-mapping program RMAP, and reports either all alignments or the unambiguous best alignment for each read with any number of mismatches or differences. This level of sensitivity could be prohibitively time consuming, but CloudBurst uses the open-source Hadoop implementation of MapReduce to parallelize execution using multiple compute nodes.
Results: CloudBurst's running time scales linearly with the number of reads mapped, and with near linear speedup as the number of processors increases. In a 24-processor core configuration, CloudBurst is up to 30 times faster than RMAP executing on a single core, while computing an identical set of alignments. Using a larger remote compute cloud with 96 cores, CloudBurst improved performance by >100-fold, reducing the running time from hours to mere minutes for typical jobs involving mapping of millions of short reads to the human genome.
Availability: CloudBurst is available open-source as a model for parallelizing algorithms with MapReduce at
PMCID: PMC2682523  PMID: 19357099
5.  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
6.  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
7.  STAR: ultrafast universal RNA-seq aligner 
Bioinformatics  2012;29(1):15-21.
Motivation: Accurate alignment of high-throughput RNA-seq data is a challenging and yet unsolved problem because of the non-contiguous transcript structure, relatively short read lengths and constantly increasing throughput of the sequencing technologies. Currently available RNA-seq aligners suffer from high mapping error rates, low mapping speed, read length limitation and mapping biases.
Results: To align our large (>80 billon reads) ENCODE Transcriptome RNA-seq dataset, we developed the Spliced Transcripts Alignment to a Reference (STAR) software based on a previously undescribed RNA-seq alignment algorithm that uses sequential maximum mappable seed search in uncompressed suffix arrays followed by seed clustering and stitching procedure. STAR outperforms other aligners by a factor of >50 in mapping speed, aligning to the human genome 550 million 2 × 76 bp paired-end reads per hour on a modest 12-core server, while at the same time improving alignment sensitivity and precision. In addition to unbiased de novo detection of canonical junctions, STAR can discover non-canonical splices and chimeric (fusion) transcripts, and is also capable of mapping full-length RNA sequences. Using Roche 454 sequencing of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction amplicons, we experimentally validated 1960 novel intergenic splice junctions with an 80–90% success rate, corroborating the high precision of the STAR mapping strategy.
Availability and implementation: STAR is implemented as a standalone C++ code. STAR is free open source software distributed under GPLv3 license and can be downloaded from
PMCID: PMC3530905  PMID: 23104886
8.  Short read alignment with populations of genomes 
Bioinformatics  2013;29(13):i361-i370.
Summary: The increasing availability of high-throughput sequencing technologies has led to thousands of human genomes having been sequenced in the past years. Efforts such as the 1000 Genomes Project further add to the availability of human genome variation data. However, to date, there is no method that can map reads of a newly sequenced human genome to a large collection of genomes. Instead, methods rely on aligning reads to a single reference genome. This leads to inherent biases and lower accuracy. To tackle this problem, a new alignment tool BWBBLE is introduced in this article. We (i) introduce a new compressed representation of a collection of genomes, which explicitly tackles the genomic variation observed at every position, and (ii) design a new alignment algorithm based on the Burrows–Wheeler transform that maps short reads from a newly sequenced genome to an arbitrary collection of two or more (up to millions of) genomes with high accuracy and no inherent bias to one specific genome.
PMCID: PMC3694645  PMID: 23813006
9.  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
10.  AlignGraph: algorithm for secondary de novo genome assembly guided by closely related references 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(12):i319-i328.
Motivation: De novo assemblies of genomes remain one of the most challenging applications in next-generation sequencing. Usually, their results are incomplete and fragmented into hundreds of contigs. Repeats in genomes and sequencing errors are the main reasons for these complications. With the rapidly growing number of sequenced genomes, it is now feasible to improve assemblies by guiding them with genomes from related species.
Results: Here we introduce AlignGraph, an algorithm for extending and joining de novo-assembled contigs or scaffolds guided by closely related reference genomes. It aligns paired-end (PE) reads and preassembled contigs or scaffolds to a close reference. From the obtained alignments, it builds a novel data structure, called the PE multipositional de Bruijn graph. The incorporated positional information from the alignments and PE reads allows us to extend the initial assemblies, while avoiding incorrect extensions and early terminations. In our performance tests, AlignGraph was able to substantially improve the contigs and scaffolds from several assemblers. For instance, 28.7–62.3% of the contigs of Arabidopsis thaliana and human could be extended, resulting in improvements of common assembly metrics, such as an increase of the N50 of the extendable contigs by 89.9–94.5% and 80.3–165.8%, respectively. In another test, AlignGraph was able to improve the assembly of a published genome (Arabidopsis strain Landsberg) by increasing the N50 of its extendable scaffolds by 86.6%. These results demonstrate AlignGraph’s efficiency in improving genome assemblies by taking advantage of closely related references.
Availability and implementation: The AlignGraph software can be downloaded for free from this site:
PMCID: PMC4058956  PMID: 24932000
11.  How do alignment programs perform on sequencing data with varying qualities and from repetitive regions? 
BioData Mining  2012;5:6.
Next-generation sequencing technologies generate a significant number of short reads that are utilized to address a variety of biological questions. However, quite often, sequencing reads tend to have low quality at the 3’ end and are generated from the repetitive regions of a genome. It is unclear how different alignment programs perform under these different cases. In order to investigate this question, we use both real data and simulated data with the above issues to evaluate the performance of four commonly used algorithms: SOAP2, Bowtie, BWA, and Novoalign.
The performance of different alignment algorithms are measured in terms of concordance between any pair of aligners (for real sequencing data without known truth) and the accuracy of simulated read alignment.
Our results show that, for sequencing data with reads that have relatively good quality or that have had low quality bases trimmed off, all four alignment programs perform similarly. We have also demonstrated that trimming off low quality ends markedly increases the number of aligned reads and improves the consistency among different aligners as well, especially for low quality data. However, Novoalign is more sensitive to the improvement of data quality. Trimming off low quality ends significantly increases the concordance between Novoalign and other aligners. As for aligning reads from repetitive regions, our simulation data show that reads from repetitive regions tend to be aligned incorrectly, and suppressing reads with multiple hits can improve alignment accuracy.
This study provides a systematic comparison of commonly used alignment algorithms in the context of sequencing data with varying qualities and from repetitive regions. Our approach can be applied to different sequencing data sets generated from different platforms. It can also be utilized to study the performance of other alignment programs.
PMCID: PMC3414812  PMID: 22709551
Next generation sequencing; Alignment; Sequencing quality; SOAP2; Bowtie; BWA; Novoalign
12.  Coupling SIMD and SIMT architectures to boost performance of a phylogeny-aware alignment kernel 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:196.
Aligning short DNA reads to a reference sequence alignment is a prerequisite for detecting their biological origin and analyzing them in a phylogenetic context. With the PaPaRa tool we introduced a dedicated dynamic programming algorithm for simultaneously aligning short reads to reference alignments and corresponding evolutionary reference trees. The algorithm aligns short reads to phylogenetic profiles that correspond to the branches of such a reference tree. The algorithm needs to perform an immense number of pairwise alignments. Therefore, we explore vector intrinsics and GPUs to accelerate the PaPaRa alignment kernel.
We optimized and parallelized PaPaRa on CPUs and GPUs. Via SSE 4.1 SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) intrinsics for x86 SIMD architectures and multi-threading, we obtained a 9-fold acceleration on a single core as well as linear speedups with respect to the number of cores. The peak CPU performance amounts to 18.1 GCUPS (Giga Cell Updates per Second) using all four physical cores on an Intel i7 2600 CPU running at 3.4 GHz. The average CPU performance (averaged over all test runs) is 12.33 GCUPS. We also used OpenCL to execute PaPaRa on a GPU SIMT (Single Instruction, Multiple Threads) architecture. A NVIDIA GeForce 560 GPU delivered peak and average performance of 22.1 and 18.4 GCUPS respectively. Finally, we combined the SIMD and SIMT implementations into a hybrid CPU-GPU system that achieved an accumulated peak performance of 33.8 GCUPS.
This accelerated version of PaPaRa (available at provides a significant performance improvement that allows for analyzing larger datasets in less time. We observe that state-of-the-art SIMD and SIMT architectures deliver comparable performance for this dynamic programming kernel when the “competing programmer approach” is deployed. Finally, we show that overall performance can be substantially increased by designing a hybrid CPU-GPU system with appropriate load distribution mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3496624  PMID: 22876807
Alignment kernel; Dynamic programming; PaPaRa; OpenCL; SSE; SIMD; SIMT; GPU
13.  QuRe: software for viral quasispecies reconstruction from next-generation sequencing data 
Bioinformatics  2011;28(1):132-133.
Summary: Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is an ideal framework for the characterization of highly variable pathogens, with a deep resolution able to capture minority variants. However, the reconstruction of all variants of a viral population infecting a host is a challenging task for genome regions larger than the average NGS read length. QuRe is a program for viral quasispecies reconstruction, specifically developed to analyze long read (>100 bp) NGS data. The software performs alignments of sequence fragments against a reference genome, finds an optimal division of the genome into sliding windows based on coverage and diversity and attempts to reconstruct all the individual sequences of the viral quasispecies—along with their prevalence—using a heuristic algorithm, which matches multinomial distributions of distinct viral variants overlapping across the genome division. QuRe comes with a built-in Poisson error correction method and a post-reconstruction probabilistic clustering, both parameterized on given error rates in homopolymeric and non-homopolymeric regions.
Availability: QuRe is platform-independent, multi-threaded software implemented in Java. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License, available at
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3244773  PMID: 22088846
14.  High-resolution SAR11 ecotype dynamics at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study site by phylogenetic placement of pyrosequences 
The ISME Journal  2013;7(7):1322-1332.
Advances in next-generation sequencing technologies are providing longer nucleotide sequence reads that contain more information about phylogenetic relationships. We sought to use this information to understand the evolution and ecology of bacterioplankton at our long-term study site in the Western Sargasso Sea. A bioinformatics pipeline called PhyloAssigner was developed to align pyrosequencing reads to a reference multiple sequence alignment of 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes and assign them phylogenetic positions in a reference tree using a maximum likelihood algorithm. Here, we used this pipeline to investigate the ecologically important SAR11 clade of Alphaproteobacteria. A combined set of 2.7 million pyrosequencing reads from the 16S rRNA V1–V2 regions, representing 9 years at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site, was quality checked and parsed into a comprehensive bacterial tree, yielding 929 036 Alphaproteobacteria reads. Phylogenetic structure within the SAR11 clade was linked to seasonally recurring spatiotemporal patterns. This analysis resolved four new SAR11 ecotypes in addition to five others that had been described previously at BATS. The data support a conclusion reached previously that the SAR11 clade diversified by subdivision of niche space in the ocean water column, but the new data reveal a more complex pattern in which deep branches of the clade diversified repeatedly across depth strata and seasonal regimes. The new data also revealed the presence of an unrecognized clade of Alphaproteobacteria, here named SMA-1 (Sargasso Mesopelagic Alphaproteobacteria, group 1), in the upper mesopelagic zone. The high-resolution phylogenetic analyses performed herein highlight significant, previously unknown, patterns of evolutionary diversification, within perhaps the most widely distributed heterotrophic marine bacterial clade, and strongly links to ecosystem regimes.
PMCID: PMC3695298  PMID: 23466704
BATS; ecotype; pyrosequencing; SAR11
15.  MapNext: a software tool for spliced and unspliced alignments and SNP detection of short sequence reads 
BMC Genomics  2009;10(Suppl 3):S13.
Next-generation sequencing technologies provide exciting avenues for studies of transcriptomics and population genomics. There is an increasing need to conduct spliced and unspliced alignments of short transcript reads onto a reference genome and estimate minor allele frequency from sequences of population samples.
We have designed and implemented MapNext, a software tool for both spliced and unspliced alignments of short sequence reads onto reference sequences, and automated SNP detection using neighbourhood quality standards. MapNext provides four main analyses: (i) unspliced alignment and clustering of reads, (ii) spliced alignment of transcript reads over intron boundaries, (iii) SNP detection and estimation of minor allele frequency from population sequences, and (iv) storage of result data in a database to make it available for more flexible queries and for further analyses. The software tool has been tested using both simulated and real data.
MapNext is a comprehensive and powerful tool for both spliced and unspliced alignments of short reads and automated SNP detection from population sequences. The simplicity, flexibility and efficiency of MapNext makes it a valuable tool for transcriptomic and population genomic research.
PMCID: PMC2788365  PMID: 19958476
16.  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
17.  A random-permutations-based approach to fast read alignment 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14(Suppl 5):S8.
Read alignment is a computational bottleneck in some sequencing projects. Most of the existing software packages for read alignment are based on two algorithmic approaches: prefix-trees and hash-tables. We propose a new approach to read alignment using random permutations of strings.
We present a prototype implementation and experiments performed with simulated and real reads of human DNA. Our experiments indicate that this permutations-based prototype is several times faster than comparable programs for fast read alignment and that it aligns more reads correctly.
This approach may lead to improved speed, sensitivity, and accuracy in read alignment. The algorithm can also be used for specialized alignment applications and it can be extended to other related problems, such as assembly.
More information:
PMCID: PMC3622637  PMID: 23734846
18.  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
19.  Grammar-based distance in progressive multiple sequence alignment 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:306.
We propose a multiple sequence alignment (MSA) algorithm and compare the alignment-quality and execution-time of the proposed algorithm with that of existing algorithms. The proposed progressive alignment algorithm uses a grammar-based distance metric to determine the order in which biological sequences are to be pairwise aligned. The progressive alignment occurs via pairwise aligning new sequences with an ensemble of the sequences previously aligned.
The performance of the proposed algorithm is validated via comparison to popular progressive multiple alignment approaches, ClustalW and T-Coffee, and to the more recently developed algorithms MAFFT, MUSCLE, Kalign, and PSAlign using the BAliBASE 3.0 database of amino acid alignment files and a set of longer sequences generated by Rose software. The proposed algorithm has successfully built multiple alignments comparable to other programs with significant improvements in running time. The results are especially striking for large datasets.
We introduce a computationally efficient progressive alignment algorithm using a grammar based sequence distance particularly useful in aligning large datasets.
PMCID: PMC2478692  PMID: 18616828
20.  BarraCUDA - a fast short read sequence aligner using graphics processing units 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:27.
With the maturation of next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) technologies, the throughput of DNA sequencing reads has soared to over 600 gigabases from a single instrument run. General purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU), extracts the computing power from hundreds of parallel stream processors within graphics processing cores and provides a cost-effective and energy efficient alternative to traditional high-performance computing (HPC) clusters. In this article, we describe the implementation of BarraCUDA, a GPGPU sequence alignment software that is based on BWA, to accelerate the alignment of sequencing reads generated by these instruments to a reference DNA sequence.
Using the NVIDIA Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) software development environment, we ported the most computational-intensive alignment component of BWA to GPU to take advantage of the massive parallelism. As a result, BarraCUDA offers a magnitude of performance boost in alignment throughput when compared to a CPU core while delivering the same level of alignment fidelity. The software is also capable of supporting multiple CUDA devices in parallel to further accelerate the alignment throughput.
BarraCUDA is designed to take advantage of the parallelism of GPU to accelerate the alignment of millions of sequencing reads generated by NGS instruments. By doing this, we could, at least in part streamline the current bioinformatics pipeline such that the wider scientific community could benefit from the sequencing technology.
BarraCUDA is currently available from
PMCID: PMC3278344  PMID: 22244497
21.  Identification of Insertion Deletion Mutations from Deep Targeted Resequencing 
Taking advantage of the deep targeted sequencing capabilities of next generation sequencers, we have developed a novel two step insertion deletion (indel) detection algorithm (IDA) that can determine indels from single read sequences with high computational efficiency and sensitivity when indels are fractionally less compared to wild type reference sequence. First, it identifies candidate indel positions utilizing specific sequence alignment artifacts produced by rapid alignment programs. Second, it confirms the location of the candidate indel by using the Smith-Waterman (SW) algorithm on a restricted subset of Sequence reads. We demonstrate that IDA is applicable to indels of varying sizes from deep targeted sequencing data at low fractions where the indel is diluted by wild type sequence. Our algorithm is useful in detecting indel variants present at variable allelic frequencies such as may occur in heterozygotes and mixed normal-tumor tissue.
PMCID: PMC3917607  PMID: 24511426
22.  Highly improved homopolymer aware nucleotide-protein alignments with 454 data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:230.
Roche 454 sequencing is the leading sequencing technology for producing long read high throughput sequence data. Unlike most methods where sequencing errors translate to base uncertainties, 454 sequencing inaccuracies create nucleotide gaps. These gaps are particularly troublesome for translated search tools such as BLASTx where they introduce frame-shifts and result in regions of decreased identity and/or terminated alignments, which affect further analysis.
To address this issue, the Homopolymer Aware Cross Alignment Tool (HAXAT) was developed. HAXAT uses a novel dynamic programming algorithm for solving the optimal local alignment between a 454 nucleotide and a protein sequence by allowing frame-shifts, guided by 454 flowpeak values. The algorithm is an efficient minimal extension of the Smith-Waterman-Gotoh algorithm that easily fits in into other tools. Experiments using HAXAT demonstrate, through the introduction of 454 specific frame-shift penalties, significantly increased accuracy of alignments spanning homopolymer sequence errors. The full effect of the new parameters introduced with this novel alignment model is explored. Experimental results evaluating homopolymer inaccuracy through alignments show a two to five-fold increase in Matthews Correlation Coefficient over previous algorithms, for 454-derived data.
This increased accuracy provided by HAXAT does not only result in improved homologue estimations, but also provides un-interrupted reading-frames, which greatly facilitate further analysis of protein space, for example phylogenetic analysis. The alignment tool is available at
PMCID: PMC3568017  PMID: 22971057
23.  A High-Throughput DNA Sequence Aligner for Microbial Ecology Studies 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8230.
As the scope of microbial surveys expands with the parallel growth in sequencing capacity, a significant bottleneck in data analysis is the ability to generate a biologically meaningful multiple sequence alignment. The most commonly used aligners have varying alignment quality and speed, tend to depend on a specific reference alignment, or lack a complete description of the underlying algorithm. The purpose of this study was to create and validate an aligner with the goal of quickly generating a high quality alignment and having the flexibility to use any reference alignment. Using the simple nearest alignment space termination algorithm, the resulting aligner operates in linear time, requires a small memory footprint, and generates a high quality alignment. In addition, the alignments generated for variable regions were of as high a quality as the alignment of full-length sequences. As implemented, the method was able to align 18 full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences and 58 V2 region sequences per second to the 50,000-column SILVA reference alignment. Most importantly, the resulting alignments were of a quality equal to SILVA-generated alignments. The aligner described in this study will enable scientists to rapidly generate robust multiple sequences alignments that are implicitly based upon the predicted secondary structure of the 16S rRNA molecule. Furthermore, because the implementation is not connected to a specific database it is easy to generalize the method to reference alignments for any DNA sequence.
PMCID: PMC2788221  PMID: 20011594
24.  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
25.  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

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