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  1. Abstract Summary

    Bioinformatics applications increasingly rely on ad hoc disk storage of k-mer sets, e.g. for de Bruijn graphs or alignment indexes. Here, we introduce the K-mer File Format as a general lossless framework for storing and manipulating k-mer sets, realizing space savings of 3–5× compared to other formats, and bringing interoperability across tools.

    Availability and implementation

    Format specification, C++/Rust API, tools: https://github.com/Kmer-File-Format/.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

     
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  2. Abstract Motivation

    Sketching is now widely used in bioinformatics to reduce data size and increase data processing speed. Sketching approaches entice with improved scalability but also carry the danger of decreased accuracy and added bias. In this article, we investigate the minimizer sketch and its use to estimate the Jaccard similarity between two sequences.

    Results

    We show that the minimizer Jaccard estimator is biased and inconsistent, which means that the expected difference (i.e. the bias) between the estimator and the true value is not zero, even in the limit as the lengths of the sequences grow. We derive an analytical formula for the bias as a function of how the shared k-mers are laid out along the sequences. We show both theoretically and empirically that there are families of sequences where the bias can be substantial (e.g. the true Jaccard can be more than double the estimate). Finally, we demonstrate that this bias affects the accuracy of the widely used mashmap read mapping tool.

    Availability and implementation

    Scripts to reproduce our experiments are available at https://github.com/medvedevgroup/minimizer-jaccard-estimator/tree/main/reproduce.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

     
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  3. Abstract Motivation

    Genome annotations are a common way to represent genomic features such as genes, regulatory elements or epigenetic modifications. The amount of overlap between two annotations is often used to ascertain if there is an underlying biological connection between them. In order to distinguish between true biological association and overlap by pure chance, a robust measure of significance is required. One common way to do this is to determine if the number of intervals in the reference annotation that intersect the query annotation is statistically significant. However, currently employed statistical frameworks are often either inefficient or inaccurate when computing P-values on the scale of the whole human genome.

    Results

    We show that finding the P-values under the typically used ‘gold’ null hypothesis is NP-hard. This motivates us to reformulate the null hypothesis using Markov chains. To be able to measure the fidelity of our Markovian null hypothesis, we develop a fast direct sampling algorithm to estimate the P-value under the gold null hypothesis. We then present an open-source software tool MCDP that computes the P-values under the Markovian null hypothesis in O(m2+n) time and O(m) memory, where m and n are the numbers of intervals in the reference and query annotations, respectively. Notably, MCDP runtime and memory usage are independent from the genome length, allowing it to outperform previous approaches in runtime and memory usage by orders of magnitude on human genome annotations, while maintaining the same level of accuracy.

    Availability and implementation

    The software is available at https://github.com/fmfi-compbio/mc-overlaps. All data for reproducibility are available at https://github.com/fmfi-compbio/mc-overlaps-reproducibility.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

     
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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  5. Recent assemblies by the T2T and VGP consortia have achieved significant accuracy but required a tremendous amount of effort and resources. More typical assembly efforts, on the other hand, still suffer both from misassemblies (joining sequences that should not be adjacent) and from underassemblies (not joining sequences that should be adjacent). To better understand the common algorithm-driven causes of these limitations, we investigated the unitig algorithm, which is a core algorithm at the heart of most assemblers. We prove that, contrary to popular belief, even when there are no sequencing errors, unitigs are not always safe (i.e., they are not guaranteed to be substrings of the sequenced genome). We also prove that the unitigs of a bidirected de Bruijn graph are different from those of a doubled de Bruijn graph and, contrary to our expectations, result in underassembly. Using experimental simulations, we then confirm that these two artifacts exist not only in theory but also in the output of widely used assemblers. In particular, when coverage is low, then even error-free data result in unsafe unitigs; also, unitigs may unnecessarily split palindromes in half if special care is not taken. To the best of our knowledge, this paper is the first to theoretically predict the existence of these assembler artifacts and confirm and measure the extent of their occurrence in practice. 
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  6. Abstract Galaxy is a mature, browser accessible workbench for scientific computing. It enables scientists to share, analyze and visualize their own data, with minimal technical impediments. A thriving global community continues to use, maintain and contribute to the project, with support from multiple national infrastructure providers that enable freely accessible analysis and training services. The Galaxy Training Network supports free, self-directed, virtual training with >230 integrated tutorials. Project engagement metrics have continued to grow over the last 2 years, including source code contributions, publications, software packages wrapped as tools, registered users and their daily analysis jobs, and new independent specialized servers. Key Galaxy technical developments include an improved user interface for launching large-scale analyses with many files, interactive tools for exploratory data analysis, and a complete suite of machine learning tools. Important scientific developments enabled by Galaxy include Vertebrate Genome Project (VGP) assembly workflows and global SARS-CoV-2 collaborations. 
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  7. null (Ed.)