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1.  Sensitive and fast mapping of di-base encoded reads 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(14):1915-1921.
Motivation: Discovering variation among high-throughput sequenced genomes relies on efficient and effective mapping of sequence reads. The speed, sensitivity and accuracy of read mapping are crucial to determining the full spectrum of single nucleotide variants (SNVs) as well as structural variants (SVs) in the donor genomes analyzed.
Results: We present drFAST, a read mapper designed for di-base encoded ‘color-space’ sequences generated with the AB SOLiD platform. drFAST is specially designed for better delineation of structural variants, including segmental duplications, and is able to return all possible map locations and underlying sequence variation of short reads within a user-specified distance threshold. We show that drFAST is more sensitive in comparison to all commonly used aligners such as Bowtie, BFAST and SHRiMP. drFAST is also faster than both BFAST and SHRiMP and achieves a mapping speed comparable to Bowtie.
Availability: The source code for drFAST is available at
PMCID: PMC3129524  PMID: 21586516
2.  SHRiMP: Accurate Mapping of Short Color-space Reads 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(5):e1000386.
The development of Next Generation Sequencing technologies, capable of sequencing hundreds of millions of short reads (25–70 bp each) in a single run, is opening the door to population genomic studies of non-model species. In this paper we present SHRiMP - the SHort Read Mapping Package: a set of algorithms and methods to map short reads to a genome, even in the presence of a large amount of polymorphism. Our method is based upon a fast read mapping technique, separate thorough alignment methods for regular letter-space as well as AB SOLiD (color-space) reads, and a statistical model for false positive hits. We use SHRiMP to map reads from a newly sequenced Ciona savignyi individual to the reference genome. We demonstrate that SHRiMP can accurately map reads to this highly polymorphic genome, while confirming high heterozygosity of C. savignyi in this second individual. SHRiMP is freely available at
Author Summary
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies are revolutionizing the way biologists acquire and analyze genomic data. NGS machines, such as Illumina/Solexa and AB SOLiD, are able to sequence genomes more cheaply by 200-fold than previous methods. One of the main application areas of NGS technologies is the discovery of genomic variation within a given species. The first step in discovering this variation is the mapping of reads sequenced from a donor individual to a known (“reference”) genome. Differences between the reference and the reads are indicative either of polymorphisms, or of sequencing errors. Since the introduction of NGS technologies, many methods have been devised for mapping reads to reference genomes. However, these algorithms often sacrifice sensitivity for fast running time. While they are successful at mapping reads from organisms that exhibit low polymorphism rates, they do not perform well at mapping reads from highly polymorphic organisms. We present a novel read mapping method, SHRiMP, that can handle much greater amounts of polymorphism. Using Ciona savignyi as our target organism, we demonstrate that our method discovers significantly more variation than other methods. Additionally, we develop color-space extensions to classical alignment algorithms, allowing us to map color-space, or “dibase”, reads generated by AB SOLiD sequencers.
PMCID: PMC2678294  PMID: 19461883
3.  mrsFAST-Ultra: a compact, SNP-aware mapper for high performance sequencing applications 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(Web Server issue):W494-W500.
High throughput sequencing (HTS) platforms generate unprecedented amounts of data that introduce challenges for processing and downstream analysis. While tools that report the ‘best’ mapping location of each read provide a fast way to process HTS data, they are not suitable for many types of downstream analysis such as structural variation detection, where it is important to report multiple mapping loci for each read. For this purpose we introduce mrsFAST-Ultra, a fast, cache oblivious, SNP-aware aligner that can handle the multi-mapping of HTS reads very efficiently. mrsFAST-Ultra improves mrsFAST, our first cache oblivious read aligner capable of handling multi-mapping reads, through new and compact index structures that reduce not only the overall memory usage but also the number of CPU operations per alignment. In fact the size of the index generated by mrsFAST-Ultra is 10 times smaller than that of mrsFAST. As importantly, mrsFAST-Ultra introduces new features such as being able to (i) obtain the best mapping loci for each read, and (ii) return all reads that have at most n mapping loci (within an error threshold), together with these loci, for any user specified n. Furthermore, mrsFAST-Ultra is SNP-aware, i.e. it can map reads to reference genome while discounting the mismatches that occur at common SNP locations provided by db-SNP; this significantly increases the number of reads that can be mapped to the reference genome. Notice that all of the above features are implemented within the index structure and are not simple post-processing steps and thus are performed highly efficiently. Finally, mrsFAST-Ultra utilizes multiple available cores and processors and can be tuned for various memory settings. Our results show that mrsFAST-Ultra is roughly five times faster than its predecessor mrsFAST. In comparison to newly enhanced popular tools such as Bowtie2, it is more sensitive (it can report 10 times or more mappings per read) and much faster (six times or more) in the multi-mapping mode. Furthermore, mrsFAST-Ultra has an index size of 2GB for the entire human reference genome, which is roughly half of that of Bowtie2. mrsFAST-Ultra is open source and it can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC4086126  PMID: 24810850
4.  Accelerating read mapping with FastHASH 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(Suppl 1):S13.
With the introduction of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, we are facing an exponential increase in the amount of genomic sequence data. The success of all medical and genetic applications of next-generation sequencing critically depends on the existence of computational techniques that can process and analyze the enormous amount of sequence data quickly and accurately. Unfortunately, the current read mapping algorithms have difficulties in coping with the massive amounts of data generated by NGS.
We propose a new algorithm, FastHASH, which drastically improves the performance of the seed-and-extend type hash table based read mapping algorithms, while maintaining the high sensitivity and comprehensiveness of such methods. FastHASH is a generic algorithm compatible with all seed-and-extend class read mapping algorithms. It introduces two main techniques, namely Adjacency Filtering, and Cheap K-mer Selection.
We implemented FastHASH and merged it into the codebase of the popular read mapping program, mrFAST. Depending on the edit distance cutoffs, we observed up to 19-fold speedup while still maintaining 100% sensitivity and high comprehensiveness.
PMCID: PMC3549798  PMID: 23369189
5.  Exploring single-sample SNP and INDEL calling with whole-genome de novo assembly 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(14):1838-1844.
Motivation: Eugene Myers in his string graph paper suggested that in a string graph or equivalently a unitig graph, any path spells a valid assembly. As a string/unitig graph also encodes every valid assembly of reads, such a graph, provided that it can be constructed correctly, is in fact a lossless representation of reads. In principle, every analysis based on whole-genome shotgun sequencing (WGS) data, such as SNP and insertion/deletion (INDEL) calling, can also be achieved with unitigs.
Results: To explore the feasibility of using de novo assembly in the context of resequencing, we developed a de novo assembler, fermi, that assembles Illumina short reads into unitigs while preserving most of information of the input reads. SNPs and INDELs can be called by mapping the unitigs against a reference genome. By applying the method on 35-fold human resequencing data, we showed that in comparison to the standard pipeline, our approach yields similar accuracy for SNP calling and better results for INDEL calling. It has higher sensitivity than other de novo assembly based methods for variant calling. Our work suggests that variant calling with de novo assembly can be a beneficial complement to the standard variant calling pipeline for whole-genome resequencing. In the methodological aspects, we propose FMD-index for forward–backward extension of DNA sequences, a fast algorithm for finding all super-maximal exact matches and one-pass construction of unitigs from an FMD-index.
PMCID: PMC3389770  PMID: 22569178
6.  Fast Mapping of Short Sequences with Mismatches, Insertions and Deletions Using Index Structures 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(9):e1000502.
With few exceptions, current methods for short read mapping make use of simple seed heuristics to speed up the search. Most of the underlying matching models neglect the necessity to allow not only mismatches, but also insertions and deletions. Current evaluations indicate, however, that very different error models apply to the novel high-throughput sequencing methods. While the most frequent error-type in Illumina reads are mismatches, reads produced by 454's GS FLX predominantly contain insertions and deletions (indels). Even though 454 sequencers are able to produce longer reads, the method is frequently applied to small RNA (miRNA and siRNA) sequencing. Fast and accurate matching in particular of short reads with diverse errors is therefore a pressing practical problem. We introduce a matching model for short reads that can, besides mismatches, also cope with indels. It addresses different error models. For example, it can handle the problem of leading and trailing contaminations caused by primers and poly-A tails in transcriptomics or the length-dependent increase of error rates. In these contexts, it thus simplifies the tedious and error-prone trimming step. For efficient searches, our method utilizes index structures in the form of enhanced suffix arrays. In a comparison with current methods for short read mapping, the presented approach shows significantly increased performance not only for 454 reads, but also for Illumina reads. Our approach is implemented in the software segemehl available at
Author Summary
The successful mapping of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) reads to reference genomes largely depends on the accuracy of both the sequencing technologies and reference genomes. Current mapping algorithms focus on mapping with mismatches but largely neglect insertions and deletions—regardless of whether they are caused by sequencing errors or genomic variation. Furthermore, trailing contaminations by primers and declining read qualities can be cumbersome for programs that allow a maximum number of mismatches. We have developed and implemented a new approach for short read mapping that, in a first step, computes exact matches of the read and the reference genome. The exact matches are then modified by a limited number of mismatches, insertions and deletions. From the set of exact and inexact matches, we select those with minimum score-based E-values. This gives a set of regions in the reference genome which is aligned to the read using Myers bitvector algorithm [1]. Our method utilizes enhanced suffix arrays [2] to quickly find the exact and inexact matches. It maps more reads and achieves higher recall rates than previous methods. This consistently holds for reads produced by 454 as well as Illumina sequencing technologies.
PMCID: PMC2730575  PMID: 19750212
7.  SEME: A Fast Mapper of Illumina Sequencing Reads with Statistical Evaluation 
Journal of Computational Biology  2013;20(11):847-860.
Mapping reads to a reference genome is a routine yet computationally intensive task in research based on high-throughput sequencing. In recent years, the sequencing reads of the Illumina platform have become longer and their quality scores higher. According to our calculation, this allows perfect k-mer seed match for almost all reads when a close reference genome is available subject to reasonable specificity. Our other observation is that the majority reads contain at most one short INDEL polymorphism. Based on these observations, we propose a fast-mapping approach, referred to as “SEME,” which has two core steps: First it scans a read sequentially in a specific order for a k-mer exact match seed; next it extends the alignment on both sides allowing, at most, one short INDEL each using a novel method called “auto-match function.” We decompose the evaluation of the sensitivity and specificity into two parts corresponding to the seed and extension step, and the composite result provides an approximate overall reliability estimate of each mapping. We compare SEME with some existing mapping methods on several datasets, and SEME shows better performance in terms of both running time and mapping rates.
PMCID: PMC3822393  PMID: 24195707
auto-match function high-throughput sequencing; INDEL; mapping; perfect match
8.  FANSe2: A Robust and Cost-Efficient Alignment Tool for Quantitative Next-Generation Sequencing Applications 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94250.
Correct and bias-free interpretation of the deep sequencing data is inevitably dependent on the complete mapping of all mappable reads to the reference sequence, especially for quantitative RNA-seq applications. Seed-based algorithms are generally slow but robust, while Burrows-Wheeler Transform (BWT) based algorithms are fast but less robust. To have both advantages, we developed an algorithm FANSe2 with iterative mapping strategy based on the statistics of real-world sequencing error distribution to substantially accelerate the mapping without compromising the accuracy. Its sensitivity and accuracy are higher than the BWT-based algorithms in the tests using both prokaryotic and eukaryotic sequencing datasets. The gene identification results of FANSe2 is experimentally validated, while the previous algorithms have false positives and false negatives. FANSe2 showed remarkably better consistency to the microarray than most other algorithms in terms of gene expression quantifications. We implemented a scalable and almost maintenance-free parallelization method that can utilize the computational power of multiple office computers, a novel feature not present in any other mainstream algorithm. With three normal office computers, we demonstrated that FANSe2 mapped an RNA-seq dataset generated from an entire Illunima HiSeq 2000 flowcell (8 lanes, 608 M reads) to masked human genome within 4.1 hours with higher sensitivity than Bowtie/Bowtie2. FANSe2 thus provides robust accuracy, full indel sensitivity, fast speed, versatile compatibility and economical computational utilization, making it a useful and practical tool for deep sequencing applications. FANSe2 is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3990525  PMID: 24743329
9.  Hobbes: optimized gram-based methods for efficient read alignment 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(6):e41.
Recent advances in sequencing technology have enabled the rapid generation of billions of bases at relatively low cost. A crucial first step in many sequencing applications is to map those reads to a reference genome. However, when the reference genome is large, finding accurate mappings poses a significant computational challenge due to the sheer amount of reads, and because many reads map to the reference sequence approximately but not exactly. We introduce Hobbes, a new gram-based program for aligning short reads, supporting Hamming and edit distance. Hobbes implements two novel techniques, which yield substantial performance improvements: an optimized gram-selection procedure for reads, and a cache-efficient filter for pruning candidate mappings. We systematically tested the performance of Hobbes on both real and simulated data with read lengths varying from 35 to 100 bp, and compared its performance with several state-of-the-art read-mapping programs, including Bowtie, BWA, mrsFast and RazerS. Hobbes is faster than all other read mapping programs we have tested while maintaining high mapping quality. Hobbes is about five times faster than Bowtie and about 2–10 times faster than BWA, depending on read length and error rate, when asked to find all mapping locations of a read in the human genome within a given Hamming or edit distance, respectively. Hobbes supports the SAM output format and is publicly available at
PMCID: PMC3315303  PMID: 22199254
10.  Improving read mapping using additional prefix grams 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15:42.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) enables rapid production of billions of bases at a relatively low cost. Mapping reads from next-generation sequencers to a given reference genome is an important first step in many sequencing applications. Popular read mappers, such as Bowtie and BWA, are optimized to return top one or a few candidate locations of each read. However, identifying all mapping locations of each read, instead of just one or a few, is also important in some sequencing applications such as ChIP-seq for discovering binding sites in repeat regions, and RNA-seq for transcript abundance estimation.
Here we present Hobbes2, a software package designed for fast and accurate alignment of NGS reads and specialized in identifying all mapping locations of each read. Hobbes2 efficiently identifies all mapping locations of reads using a novel technique that utilizes additional prefix q-grams to improve filtering. We extensively compare Hobbes2 with state-of-the-art read mappers, and show that Hobbes2 can be an order of magnitude faster than other read mappers while consuming less memory space and achieving similar accuracy.
We propose Hobbes2 to improve the accuracy of read mapping, specialized in identifying all mapping locations of each read. Hobbes2 is implemented in C++, and the source code is freely available for download at
PMCID: PMC3927682  PMID: 24499321
Next-generation sequencing; Read alignment; All mapper; Additional prefix q-gram; Hobbes2
11.  FANSe: an accurate algorithm for quantitative mapping of large scale sequencing reads 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(11):e83.
The most crucial step in data processing from high-throughput sequencing applications is the accurate and sensitive alignment of the sequencing reads to reference genomes or transcriptomes. The accurate detection of insertions and deletions (indels) and errors introduced by the sequencing platform or by misreading of modified nucleotides is essential for the quantitative processing of the RNA-based sequencing (RNA-Seq) datasets and for the identification of genetic variations and modification patterns. We developed a new, fast and accurate algorithm for nucleic acid sequence analysis, FANSe, with adjustable mismatch allowance settings and ability to handle indels to accurately and quantitatively map millions of reads to small or large reference genomes. It is a seed-based algorithm which uses the whole read information for mapping and high sensitivity and low ambiguity are achieved by using short and non-overlapping reads. Furthermore, FANSe uses hotspot score to prioritize the processing of highly possible matches and implements modified Smith–Watermann refinement with reduced scoring matrix to accelerate the calculation without compromising its sensitivity. The FANSe algorithm stably processes datasets from various sequencing platforms, masked or unmasked and small or large genomes. It shows a remarkable coverage of low-abundance mRNAs which is important for quantitative processing of RNA-Seq datasets.
PMCID: PMC3367211  PMID: 22379138
12.  Perfect Hamming code with a hash table for faster genome mapping 
BMC Genomics  2011;12(Suppl 3):S8.
With the advent of next-generation sequencers, the growing demands to map short DNA sequences to a genome have promoted the development of fast algorithms and tools. The tools commonly used today are based on either a hash table or the suffix array/Burrow–Wheeler transform. These algorithms are the best suited to finding the genome position of exactly matching short reads. However, they have limited capacity to handle the mismatches. To find n-mismatches, they requires O(2n) times the computation time of exact matches. Therefore, acceleration techniques are required.
We propose a hash-based method for genome mapping that reduces the number of hash references for finding mismatches without increasing the size of the hash table. The method regards DNA subsequences as words on Galois extension field GF(22) and each word is encoded to a code word of a perfect Hamming code. The perfect Hamming code defines equivalence classes of DNA subsequences. Each equivalence class includes subsequence whose corresponding words on GF(22) are encoded to a corresponding code word. The code word is used as a hash key to store these subsequences in a hash table. Specifically, it reduces by about 70% the number of hash keys necessary for searching the genome positions of all 2-mismatches of 21-base-long DNA subsequence.
The paper shows perfect hamming code can reduce the number of hash references for hash-based genome mapping. As the computation time to calculate code words is far shorter than a hash reference, our method is effective to reduce the computation time to map short DNA sequences to genome. The amount of data that DNA sequencers generate continues to increase and more accurate genome mappings are required. Thus our method will be a key technology to develop faster genome mapping software.
PMCID: PMC3333191  PMID: 22369457
13.  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
14.  PerM: efficient mapping of short sequencing reads with periodic full sensitive spaced seeds 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(19):2514-2521.
Motivation: The explosion of next-generation sequencing data has spawned the design of new algorithms and software tools to provide efficient mapping for different read lengths and sequencing technologies. In particular, ABI's sequencer (SOLiD system) poses a big computational challenge with its capacity to produce very large amounts of data, and its unique strategy of encoding sequence data into color signals.
Results: We present the mapping software, named PerM (Periodic Seed Mapping) that uses periodic spaced seeds to significantly improve mapping efficiency for large reference genomes when compared with state-of-the-art programs. The data structure in PerM requires only 4.5 bytes per base to index the human genome, allowing entire genomes to be loaded to memory, while multiple processors simultaneously map reads to the reference. Weight maximized periodic seeds offer full sensitivity for up to three mismatches and high sensitivity for four and five mismatches while minimizing the number random hits per query, significantly speeding up the running time. Such sensitivity makes PerM a valuable mapping tool for SOLiD and Solexa reads.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC2752623  PMID: 19675096
15.  Ψ-RA: a parallel sparse index for genomic read alignment 
BMC Genomics  2011;12(Suppl 2):S7.
Genomic read alignment involves mapping (exactly or approximately) short reads from a particular individual onto a pre-sequenced reference genome of the same species. Because all individuals of the same species share the majority of their genomes, short reads alignment provides an alternative and much more efficient way to sequence the genome of a particular individual than does direct sequencing. Among many strategies proposed for this alignment process, indexing the reference genome and short read searching over the index is a dominant technique. Our goal is to design a space-efficient indexing structure with fast searching capability to catch the massive short reads produced by the next generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technology.
We concentrate on indexing DNA sequences via sparse suffix arrays (SSAs) and propose a new short read aligner named Ψ-RA (PSI-RA: parallel sparse index read aligner). The motivation in using SSAs is the ability to trade memory against time. It is possible to fine tune the space consumption of the index based on the available memory of the machine and the minimum length of the arriving pattern queries. Although SSAs have been studied before for exact matching of short reads, an elegant way of approximate matching capability was missing. We provide this by defining the rightmost mismatch criteria that prioritize the errors towards the end of the reads, where errors are more probable. Ψ-RA supports any number of mismatches in aligning reads. We give comparisons with some of the well-known short read aligners, and show that indexing a genome with SSA is a good alternative to the Burrows-Wheeler transform or seed-based solutions.
Ψ-RA is expected to serve as a valuable tool in the alignment of short reads generated by the next generation high-throughput sequencing technology. Ψ-RA is very fast in exact matching and also supports rightmost approximate matching. The SSA structure that Ψ-RA is built on naturally incorporates the modern multicore architecture and thus further speed-up can be gained. All the information, including the source code of Ψ-RA, can be downloaded at:
PMCID: PMC3194238  PMID: 21989248
16.  Gene prediction in metagenomic fragments: A large scale machine learning approach 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:217.
Metagenomics is an approach to the characterization of microbial genomes via the direct isolation of genomic sequences from the environment without prior cultivation. The amount of metagenomic sequence data is growing fast while computational methods for metagenome analysis are still in their infancy. In contrast to genomic sequences of single species, which can usually be assembled and analyzed by many available methods, a large proportion of metagenome data remains as unassembled anonymous sequencing reads. One of the aims of all metagenomic sequencing projects is the identification of novel genes. Short length, for example, Sanger sequencing yields on average 700 bp fragments, and unknown phylogenetic origin of most fragments require approaches to gene prediction that are different from the currently available methods for genomes of single species. In particular, the large size of metagenomic samples requires fast and accurate methods with small numbers of false positive predictions.
We introduce a novel gene prediction algorithm for metagenomic fragments based on a two-stage machine learning approach. In the first stage, we use linear discriminants for monocodon usage, dicodon usage and translation initiation sites to extract features from DNA sequences. In the second stage, an artificial neural network combines these features with open reading frame length and fragment GC-content to compute the probability that this open reading frame encodes a protein. This probability is used for the classification and scoring of gene candidates. With large scale training, our method provides fast single fragment predictions with good sensitivity and specificity on artificially fragmented genomic DNA. Additionally, this method is able to predict translation initiation sites accurately and distinguishes complete from incomplete genes with high reliability.
Large scale machine learning methods are well-suited for gene prediction in metagenomic DNA fragments. In particular, the combination of linear discriminants and neural networks is promising and should be considered for integration into metagenomic analysis pipelines. The data sets can be downloaded from the URL provided (see Availability and requirements section).
PMCID: PMC2409338  PMID: 18442389
17.  A hybrid short read mapping accelerator 
BMC Bioinformatics  2013;14:67.
The rapid growth of short read datasets poses a new challenge to the short read mapping problem in terms of sensitivity and execution speed. Existing methods often use a restrictive error model for computing the alignments to improve speed, whereas more flexible error models are generally too slow for large-scale applications. A number of short read mapping software tools have been proposed. However, designs based on hardware are relatively rare. Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have been successfully used in a number of specific application areas, such as the DSP and communications domains due to their outstanding parallel data processing capabilities, making them a competitive platform to solve problems that are “inherently parallel”.
We present a hybrid system for short read mapping utilizing both FPGA-based hardware and CPU-based software. The computation intensive alignment and the seed generation operations are mapped onto an FPGA. We present a computationally efficient, parallel block-wise alignment structure (Align Core) to approximate the conventional dynamic programming algorithm. The performance is compared to the multi-threaded CPU-based GASSST and BWA software implementations. For single-end alignment, our hybrid system achieves faster processing speed than GASSST (with a similar sensitivity) and BWA (with a higher sensitivity); for pair-end alignment, our design achieves a slightly worse sensitivity than that of BWA but has a higher processing speed.
This paper shows that our hybrid system can effectively accelerate the mapping of short reads to a reference genome based on the seed-and-extend approach. The performance comparison to the GASSST and BWA software implementations under different conditions shows that our hybrid design achieves a high degree of sensitivity and requires less overall execution time with only modest FPGA resource utilization. Our hybrid system design also shows that the performance bottleneck for the short read mapping problem can be changed from the alignment stage to the seed generation stage, which provides an additional requirement for the future development of short read aligners.
PMCID: PMC3598928  PMID: 23441908
18.  biobambam: tools for read pair collation based algorithms on BAM files 
Sequence alignment data is often ordered by coordinate (id of the reference sequence plus position on the sequence where the fragment was mapped) when stored in BAM files, as this simplifies the extraction of variants between the mapped data and the reference or of variants within the mapped data. In this order paired reads are usually separated in the file, which complicates some other applications like duplicate marking or conversion to the FastQ format which require to access the full information of the pairs.
In this paper we introduce biobambam, a set of tools based on the efficient collation of alignments in BAM files by read name. The employed collation algorithm avoids time and space consuming sorting of alignments by read name where this is possible without using more than a specified amount of main memory. Using this algorithm tasks like duplicate marking in BAM files and conversion of BAM files to the FastQ format can be performed very efficiently with limited resources. We also make the collation algorithm available in the form of an API for other projects. This API is part of the libmaus package.
In comparison with previous approaches to problems involving the collation of alignments by read name like the BAM to FastQ or duplication marking utilities our approach can often perform an equivalent task more efficiently in terms of the required main memory and run-time. Our BAM to FastQ conversion is faster than all widely known alternatives including Picard and bamUtil. Our duplicate marking is about as fast as the closest competitor bamUtil for small data sets and faster than all known alternatives on large and complex data sets.
PMCID: PMC4075596
High throughput sequencing; Collation by read name; Duplicate marking; File format conversion
19.  Using quality scores and longer reads improves accuracy of Solexa read mapping 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:128.
Second-generation sequencing has the potential to revolutionize genomics and impact all areas of biomedical science. New technologies will make re-sequencing widely available for such applications as identifying genome variations or interrogating the oligonucleotide content of a large sample (e.g. ChIP-sequencing). The increase in speed, sensitivity and availability of sequencing technology brings demand for advances in computational technology to perform associated analysis tasks. The Solexa/Illumina 1G sequencer can produce tens of millions of reads, ranging in length from ~25–50 nt, in a single experiment. Accurately mapping the reads back to a reference genome is a critical task in almost all applications. Two sources of information that are often ignored when mapping reads from the Solexa technology are the 3' ends of longer reads, which contain a much higher frequency of sequencing errors, and the base-call quality scores.
To investigate whether these sources of information can be used to improve accuracy when mapping reads, we developed the RMAP tool, which can map reads having a wide range of lengths and allows base-call quality scores to determine which positions in each read are more important when mapping. We applied RMAP to analyze data re-sequenced from two human BAC regions for varying read lengths, and varying criteria for use of quality scores. RMAP is freely available for downloading at .
Our results indicate that significant gains in Solexa read mapping performance can be achieved by considering the information in 3' ends of longer reads, and appropriately using the base-call quality scores. The RMAP tool we have developed will enable researchers to effectively exploit this information in targeted re-sequencing projects.
PMCID: PMC2335322  PMID: 18307793
20.  The Subread aligner: fast, accurate and scalable read mapping by seed-and-vote 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(10):e108.
Read alignment is an ongoing challenge for the analysis of data from sequencing technologies. This article proposes an elegantly simple multi-seed strategy, called seed-and-vote, for mapping reads to a reference genome. The new strategy chooses the mapped genomic location for the read directly from the seeds. It uses a relatively large number of short seeds (called subreads) extracted from each read and allows all the seeds to vote on the optimal location. When the read length is <160 bp, overlapping subreads are used. More conventional alignment algorithms are then used to fill in detailed mismatch and indel information between the subreads that make up the winning voting block. The strategy is fast because the overall genomic location has already been chosen before the detailed alignment is done. It is sensitive because no individual subread is required to map exactly, nor are individual subreads constrained to map close by other subreads. It is accurate because the final location must be supported by several different subreads. The strategy extends easily to find exon junctions, by locating reads that contain sets of subreads mapping to different exons of the same gene. It scales up efficiently for longer reads.
PMCID: PMC3664803  PMID: 23558742
21.  SCALCE: boosting sequence compression algorithms using locally consistent encoding 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(23):3051-3057.
Motivation: The high throughput sequencing (HTS) platforms generate unprecedented amounts of data that introduce challenges for the computational infrastructure. Data management, storage and analysis have become major logistical obstacles for those adopting the new platforms. The requirement for large investment for this purpose almost signalled the end of the Sequence Read Archive hosted at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which holds most of the sequence data generated world wide. Currently, most HTS data are compressed through general purpose algorithms such as gzip. These algorithms are not designed for compressing data generated by the HTS platforms; for example, they do not take advantage of the specific nature of genomic sequence data, that is, limited alphabet size and high similarity among reads. Fast and efficient compression algorithms designed specifically for HTS data should be able to address some of the issues in data management, storage and communication. Such algorithms would also help with analysis provided they offer additional capabilities such as random access to any read and indexing for efficient sequence similarity search. Here we present SCALCE, a ‘boosting’ scheme based on Locally Consistent Parsing technique, which reorganizes the reads in a way that results in a higher compression speed and compression rate, independent of the compression algorithm in use and without using a reference genome.
Results: Our tests indicate that SCALCE can improve the compression rate achieved through gzip by a factor of 4.19—when the goal is to compress the reads alone. In fact, on SCALCE reordered reads, gzip running time can improve by a factor of 15.06 on a standard PC with a single core and 6 GB memory. Interestingly even the running time of SCALCE + gzip improves that of gzip alone by a factor of 2.09. When compared with the recently published BEETL, which aims to sort the (inverted) reads in lexicographic order for improving bzip2, SCALCE + gzip provides up to 2.01 times better compression while improving the running time by a factor of 5.17. SCALCE also provides the option to compress the quality scores as well as the read names, in addition to the reads themselves. This is achieved by compressing the quality scores through order-3 Arithmetic Coding (AC) and the read names through gzip through the reordering SCALCE provides on the reads. This way, in comparison with gzip compression of the unordered FASTQ files (including reads, read names and quality scores), SCALCE (together with gzip and arithmetic encoding) can provide up to 3.34 improvement in the compression rate and 1.26 improvement in running time.
Availability: Our algorithm, SCALCE (Sequence Compression Algorithm using Locally Consistent Encoding), is implemented in C++ with both gzip and bzip2 compression options. It also supports multithreading when gzip option is selected, and the pigz binary is available. It is available at
Contact: or
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3509486  PMID: 23047557
22.  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
23.  YAHA: fast and flexible long-read alignment with optimal breakpoint detection 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(19):2417-2424.
Motivation: With improved short-read assembly algorithms and the recent development of long-read sequencers, split mapping will soon be the preferred method for structural variant (SV) detection. Yet, current alignment tools are not well suited for this.
Results: We present YAHA, a fast and flexible hash-based aligner. YAHA is as fast and accurate as BWA-SW at finding the single best alignment per query and is dramatically faster and more sensitive than both SSAHA2 and MegaBLAST at finding all possible alignments. Unlike other aligners that report all, or one, alignment per query, or that use simple heuristics to select alignments, YAHA uses a directed acyclic graph to find the optimal set of alignments that cover a query using a biologically relevant breakpoint penalty. YAHA can also report multiple mappings per defined segment of the query. We show that YAHA detects more breakpoints in less time than BWA-SW across all SV classes, and especially excels at complex SVs comprising multiple breakpoints.
Availability: YAHA is currently supported on 64-bit Linux systems. Binaries and sample data are freely available for download from
PMCID: PMC3463118  PMID: 22829624
24.  Adaptable probabilistic mapping of short reads using position specific scoring matrices 
BMC Bioinformatics  2014;15:100.
Modern DNA sequencing methods produce vast amounts of data that often requires mapping to a reference genome. Most existing programs use the number of mismatches between the read and the genome as a measure of quality. This approach is without a statistical foundation and can for some data types result in many wrongly mapped reads. Here we present a probabilistic mapping method based on position-specific scoring matrices, which can take into account not only the quality scores of the reads but also user-specified models of evolution and data-specific biases.
We show how evolution, data-specific biases, and sequencing errors are naturally dealt with probabilistically. Our method achieves better results than Bowtie and BWA on simulated and real ancient and PAR-CLIP reads, as well as on simulated reads from the AT rich organism P. falciparum, when modeling the biases of these data. For simulated Illumina reads, the method has consistently higher sensitivity for both single-end and paired-end data. We also show that our probabilistic approach can limit the problem of random matches from short reads of contamination and that it improves the mapping of real reads from one organism (D. melanogaster) to a related genome (D. simulans).
The presented work is an implementation of a novel approach to short read mapping where quality scores, prior mismatch probabilities and mapping qualities are handled in a statistically sound manner. The resulting implementation provides not only a tool for biologists working with low quality and/or biased sequencing data but also a demonstration of the feasibility of using a probability based alignment method on real and simulated data sets.
PMCID: PMC4021105  PMID: 24717095
Short-read mapping; Sequence alignment; Next-generation sequencing; Ancient DNA; PAR-CLIP; Xeno mapping
25.  ReadXplorer—visualization and analysis of mapped sequences 
Bioinformatics  2014;30(16):2247-2254.
Motivation: Fast algorithms and well-arranged visualizations are required for the comprehensive analysis of the ever-growing size of genomic and transcriptomic next-generation sequencing data.
Results: ReadXplorer is a software offering straightforward visualization and extensive analysis functions for genomic and transcriptomic DNA sequences mapped on a reference. A unique specialty of ReadXplorer is the quality classification of the read mappings. It is incorporated in all analysis functions and displayed in ReadXplorer's various synchronized data viewers for (i) the reference sequence, its base coverage as (ii) normalizable plot and (iii) histogram, (iv) read alignments and (v) read pairs. ReadXplorer's analysis capability covers RNA secondary structure prediction, single nucleotide polymorphism and deletion–insertion polymorphism detection, genomic feature and general coverage analysis. Especially for RNA-Seq data, it offers differential gene expression analysis, transcription start site and operon detection as well as RPKM value and read count calculations. Furthermore, ReadXplorer can combine or superimpose coverage of different datasets.
Availability and implementation: ReadXplorer is available as open-source software at along with a detailed manual.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC4217279  PMID: 24790157

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