Background: Illumina paired-end reads are used to analyse microbial communities by targeting amplicons of the 16S rRNA gene. Publicly available tools are needed to assemble overlapping paired-end reads while correcting mismatches and uncalled bases; many errors could be corrected to obtain higher sequence yields using quality information.
Results: PANDAseq assembles paired-end reads rapidly and with the correction of most errors. Uncertain error corrections come from reads with many low-quality bases identified by upstream processing. Benchmarks were done using real error masks on simulated data, a pure source template, and a pooled template of genomic DNA from known organisms. PANDAseq assembled reads more rapidly and with reduced error incorporation compared to alternative methods.
Conclusions: PANDAseq rapidly assembles sequences and scales to billions of paired-end reads. Assembly of control libraries showed a 4-50% increase in the number of assembled sequences over naïve assembly with negligible loss of "good" sequence.