Background: A critical output of metagenomic studies is the estimation of abundances of taxonomical or functional groups. The inherent uncertainty in assignments to these groups makes it important to consider both their hierarchical contexts and their prediction confidence. The current tools for visualizing metagenomic data, however, omit or distort quantitative hierarchical relationships and lack the facility for displaying secondary variables.
Conclusions: Krona is both a powerful metagenomic visualization tool and a demonstration of the potential of HTML5 for highly accessible bioinformatic visualizations. Its rich and interactive displays facilitate more informed interpretations of metagenomic analyses, while its implementation as a browser-based application makes it extremely portable and easily adopted into existing analysis packages. Both the Krona rendering code and conversion tools are freely available under a BSD open-source license, and available from: http://krona.sourceforge.net.