BIOCOM-PIPE: a new user-friendly metabarcoding pipeline for the characterization of microbial diversity from 16S, 18S and 23S rRNA gene amplicons

BMC Bioinformatics. 2020 Oct 31;21(1):492. doi: 10.1186/s12859-020-03829-3.


Background: The ability to compare samples or studies easily using metabarcoding so as to better interpret microbial ecology results is an upcoming challenge. A growing number of metabarcoding pipelines are available, each with its own benefits and limitations. However, very few have been developed to offer the opportunity to characterize various microbial communities (e.g., archaea, bacteria, fungi, photosynthetic microeukaryotes) with the same tool.

Results: BIOCOM-PIPE is a flexible and independent suite of tools for processing data from high-throughput sequencing technologies, Roche 454 and Illumina platforms, and focused on the diversity of archaeal, bacterial, fungal, and photosynthetic microeukaryote amplicons. Various original methods were implemented in BIOCOM-PIPE to (1) remove chimeras based on read abundance, (2) align sequences with structure-based alignments of RNA homologs using covariance models, and (3) a post-clustering tool (ReClustOR) to improve OTUs consistency based on a reference OTU database. The comparison with two other pipelines (FROGS and mothur) and Amplicon Sequence Variant definition highlighted that BIOCOM-PIPE was better at discriminating land use groups.

Conclusions: The BIOCOM-PIPE pipeline makes it possible to analyze 16S, 18S and 23S rRNA genes in the same packaged tool. The new post-clustering approach defines a biological database from previously analyzed samples and performs post-clustering of reads with this reference database by using open-reference clustering. This makes it easier to compare projects from various sequencing runs, and increased the congruence among results. For all users, the pipeline was developed to allow for adding or modifying the components, the databases and the bioinformatics tools easily, giving high modularity for each analysis.

Keywords: Archaeal; Bacterial; Ecology; France; Fungal; Land-use; Metabarcoding; Photosynthetic microeukaryotes; ReClustOR.

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Fungi / genetics*
  • Genes, rRNA*
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / genetics
  • Software*
  • Soil Microbiology


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S