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.