acdc – Automated Contamination Detection and Confidence estimation for single-cell genome data.

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acdc – Automated Contamination Detection and Confidence estimation for single-cell genome data.

BMC Bioinformatics. 2016 Dec 20;17(1):543

Authors: Lux M, Krüger J, Rinke C, Maus I, Schlüter A, Woyke T, Sczyrba A, Hammer B

Abstract
BACKGROUND: A major obstacle in single-cell sequencing is sample contamination with foreign DNA. To guarantee clean genome assemblies and to prevent the introduction of contamination into public databases, considerable quality control efforts are put into post-sequencing analysis. Contamination screening generally relies on reference-based methods such as database alignment or marker gene search, which limits the set of detectable contaminants to organisms with closely related reference species. As genomic coverage in the tree of life is highly fragmented, there is an urgent need for a reference-free methodology for contaminant identification in sequence data.
RESULTS: We present acdc, a tool specifically developed to aid the quality control process of genomic sequence data. By combining supervised and unsupervised methods, it reliably detects both known and de novo contaminants. First, 16S rRNA gene prediction and the inclusion of ultrafast exact alignment techniques allow sequence classification using existing knowledge from databases. Second, reference-free inspection is enabled by the use of state-of-the-art machine learning techniques that include fast, non-linear dimensionality reduction of oligonucleotide signatures and subsequent clustering algorithms that automatically estimate the number of clusters. The latter also enables the removal of any contaminant, yielding a clean sample. Furthermore, given the data complexity and the ill-posedness of clustering, acdc employs bootstrapping techniques to provide statistically profound confidence values. Tested on a large number of samples from diverse sequencing projects, our software is able to quickly and accurately identify contamination. Results are displayed in an interactive user interface. Acdc can be run from the web as well as a dedicated command line application, which allows easy integration into large sequencing project analysis workflows.
CONCLUSIONS: Acdc can reliably detect contamination in single-cell genome data. In addition to database-driven detection, it complements existing tools by its unsupervised techniques, which allow for the detection of de novo contaminants. Our contribution has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of resources put into these processes, particularly in the context of limited availability of reference species. As single-cell genome data continues to grow rapidly, acdc adds to the toolkit of crucial quality assurance tools.

PMID: 27998267 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Impact of T-RFLP data analysis choices on assessments of microbial community structure and dynamics.

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Impact of T-RFLP data analysis choices on assessments of microbial community structure and dynamics.

BMC Bioinformatics. 2014;15:360

Authors: Fredriksson NJ, Hermansson M, Wilén BM

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis is a common DNA-fingerprinting technique used for comparisons of complex microbial communities. Although the technique is well established there is no consensus on how to treat T-RFLP data to achieve the highest possible accuracy and reproducibility. This study focused on two critical steps in the T-RFLP data treatment: the alignment of the terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs), which enables comparisons of samples, and the normalization of T-RF profiles, which adjusts for differences in signal strength, total fluorescence, between samples.
RESULTS: Variations in the estimation of T-RF sizes were observed and these variations were found to affect the alignment of the T-RFs. A novel method was developed which improved the alignment by adjusting for systematic shifts in the T-RF size estimations between the T-RF profiles. Differences in total fluorescence were shown to be caused by differences in sample concentration and by the gel loading. Five normalization methods were evaluated and the total fluorescence normalization procedure based on peak height data was found to increase the similarity between replicate profiles the most. A high peak detection threshold, alignment correction, normalization and the use of consensus profiles instead of single profiles increased the similarity of replicate T-RF profiles, i.e. lead to an increased reproducibility. The impact of different treatment methods on the outcome of subsequent analyses of T-RFLP data was evaluated using a dataset from a longitudinal study of the bacterial community in an activated sludge wastewater treatment plant. Whether the alignment was corrected or not and if and how the T-RF profiles were normalized had a substantial impact on ordination analyses, assessments of bacterial dynamics and analyses of correlations with environmental parameters.
CONCLUSIONS: A novel method for the evaluation and correction of the alignment of T-RF profiles was shown to reduce the uncertainty and ambiguity in alignments of T-RF profiles. Large differences in the outcome of assessments of bacterial community structure and dynamics were observed between different alignment and normalization methods. The results of this study can therefore be of value when considering what methods to use in the analysis of T-RFLP data.

PMID: 25381552 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]