iLoci: robust evaluation of genome content and organization for provisional and mature genome assemblies

NAR Genom Bioinform. 2022 Feb 22;4(1):lqac013. doi: 10.1093/nargab/lqac013. eCollection 2022 Mar.


We introduce a new framework for genome analyses based on parsing an annotated genome assembly into distinct interval loci (iLoci), available as open-source software as part of the AEGeAn Toolkit ( We demonstrate that iLoci provide an alternative coordinate system that is robust to changes in assembly and annotation versions and facilitates granular quality control of genome data. We discuss how statistics computed on iLoci reflect various characteristics of genome content and organization and illustrate how these statistics can be used to establish a baseline for assessment of the completeness and accuracy of the data. We also introduce a well-defined measure of relative genome compactness and compute other iLocus statistics that reveal genome-wide characteristics of gene arrangements in the whole genome context. Given the fast pace of assembly/annotation updates, our AEGeAn Toolkit fills a niche in computational genomics based on deriving persistent and species-specific genome statistics. Gene structure model-centric iLoci provide a precisely defined coordinate system that can be used to store assembly/annotation updates that reflect either stable or changed assessments. Large-scale application of the approach revealed species- and clade-specific genome organization in precisely defined computational terms, promising intriguing forays into the forces of shaping genome structure as more and more genome assemblies are being deposited.