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Minimus: A Fast, Lightweight Genome Assembler


Minimus: A Fast, Lightweight Genome Assembler

Daniel D Sommer et al. BMC Bioinformatics.


Background: Genome assemblers have grown very large and complex in response to the need for algorithms to handle the challenges of large whole-genome sequencing projects. Many of the most common uses of assemblers, however, are best served by a simpler type of assembler that requires fewer software components, uses less memory, and is far easier to install and run.

Results: We have developed the Minimus assembler to address these issues, and tested it on a range of assembly problems. We show that Minimus performs well on several small assembly tasks, including the assembly of viral genomes, individual genes, and BAC clones. In addition, we evaluate Minimus' performance in assembling bacterial genomes in order to assess its suitability as a component of a larger assembly pipeline. We show that, unlike other software currently used for these tasks, Minimus produces significantly fewer assembly errors, at the cost of generating a more fragmented assembly.

Conclusion: We find that for small genomes and other small assembly tasks, Minimus is faster and far more flexible than existing tools. Due to its small size and modular design Minimus is perfectly suited to be a component of complex assembly pipelines. Minimus is released as an open-source software project and the code is available as part of the AMOS project at Sourceforge.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Overview of Minimus pipeline. Several independent modules of the AMOS package (shown as ovals) interact through the AMOS API to a central data-structure (called a Bank). The order of execution of the individual modules is shown by the arrow. Note that the inputs and outputs to minimus follow the AMOS file format (AMOS message files). The AMOS package provides converters between this file format and virtually all commonly used formats for representing sequence data and genome assemblies.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Top: Blast alignments of contigs resulting from minimus assembly of Zebrafish shotgun reads to the human GPC3 protein. The top four matches correspond to contigs that do not have any significant similarity to each other at the nucleotide level, indicating the presence of at least 4 homologues to the GPC3 gene in the Zebrafish genome. Bottom: Alignment of the Zebrafish GPC3 protein to the human GPC3 protein highlighting that the minimus assembly covers the majority of this gene.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Dot plots of alignments of assemblies produced by minimus (top) and phrap (bottom) to the completed Brucella suis genome. The horizontal lines indicate the boundary between assembled contigs represented on the y axis. The vertical line separates between the two chromosomes of Brucella suis represented on the x axis. The minimus assembly (top) perfectly matches the reference sequence, as indicated by all matches lying along the main diagonal (except the contig at the bottom center, which spans the origin of the circular chromosome). The phrap assembly (bottom) shows many discrepancies with respect to the reference sequence (off-diagonal segments), including several contigs that incorrectly join segments of the two distinct chromosomes (e.g., second and third contigs from the bottom). Note that the ordering of the contigs implied by these figures is an artifact of the alignment to the reference sequence and does not correspond to the order in which the contigs were reported by the specific assembly tools. The discrepancies between the phrap assembly and the reference sequence prevent us from providing a consistent ordering for this assembly.

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