Next-generation DNA-sequencing (NGS) technologies, which are designed to streamline the acquisition of massive amounts of sequencing data, are nonetheless dependent on various preparative steps to generate DNA fragments of required concentration, purity and average size (molecular weight). Current automated electrophoresis systems for DNA- and RNA-sample quality control, such as Agilent's Bioanalyzer® and TapeStation® products, are costly to acquire and use; they also provide limited information for samples having broad size distributions. Here, we describe a software tool that helps determine the size distribution of DNA fragments in an NGS library, or other DNA sample, based on gel-electrophoretic line profiles. The software, developed as an ImageJ plug-in, allows for straightforward processing of gel images, including lane selection and fitting of univariate functions to intensity distributions. The user selects the option of fitting either discrete profiles in cases where discrete gel bands are visible or continuous profiles, having multiple bands buried under a single broad peak. The method requires only modest imaging capabilities and is a cost-effective, rigorous alternative characterization method to augment existing techniques for library quality control.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.