Mash Screen: high-throughput sequence containment estimation for genome discovery

Genome Biol. 2019 Nov 5;20(1):232. doi: 10.1186/s13059-019-1841-x.


The MinHash algorithm has proven effective for rapidly estimating the resemblance of two genomes or metagenomes. However, this method cannot reliably estimate the containment of a genome within a metagenome. Here, we describe an online algorithm capable of measuring the containment of genomes and proteomes within either assembled or unassembled sequencing read sets. We describe several use cases, including contamination screening and retrospective analysis of metagenomes for novel genome discovery. Using this tool, we provide containment estimates for every NCBI RefSeq genome within every SRA metagenome and demonstrate the identification of a novel polyomavirus species from a public metagenome.

Keywords: Metagenomics; MinHash; Polyomavirus; SRA; Sequencing; Viral Discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • DNA Contamination*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays*
  • Humans
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Polyomavirus / isolation & purification
  • Proteome


  • Proteome