Background: Long read sequencing technologies such as Oxford Nanopore can greatly decrease the complexity of de novo genome assembly and large structural variation identification. Currently Nanopore reads have high error rates, and the errors often cluster into low-quality segments within the reads. The limited sensitivity of existing read-based error correction methods can cause large-scale mis-assemblies in the assembled genomes, motivating further innovation in this area.
Results: Here we developed a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) based method, called MiniScrub, for identification and subsequent "scrubbing" (removal) of low-quality Nanopore read segments to minimize their interference in downstream assembly process. MiniScrub first generates read-to-read overlaps via MiniMap2, then encodes the overlaps into images, and finally builds CNN models to predict low-quality segments. Applying MiniScrub to real world control datasets under several different parameters, we show that it robustly improves read quality, and improves read error correction in the metagenome setting. Compared to raw reads, de novo genome assembly with scrubbed reads produces many fewer mis-assemblies and large indel errors.
Conclusions: MiniScrub is able to robustly improve read quality of Oxford Nanopore reads, especially in the metagenome setting, making it useful for downstream applications such as de novo assembly. We propose MiniScrub as a tool for preprocessing Nanopore reads for downstream analyses. MiniScrub is open-source software and is available at https://bitbucket.org/berkeleylab/jgi-miniscrub .
Keywords: Deep learning; Long sequence reads; Oxford Nanopore; de novo assembly.