PACVr: Plastome Assembly Coverage Visualization in R

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Authors Michael Gruenstaeudl, Nils Jenke
Journal/Conference Name BIORXIV
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Background: The circular, quadripartite structure of plastid genomes which includes two inverted repeat regions renders the automatic assembly of plastid genomes challenging. The correct assembly of plastid genomes is a prerequisite for the validity of subsequent analyses on plastid genome structure and evolution. Plastome-based phylogenetic or population genetic investigations, for example, require the precise identification of DNA sequence and length to determine the location of nucleotide polymorphisms. The average coverage depth of a genome assembly is often used as an indicator for assembly quality. Visualizing coverage depth across a draft genome allows users to inspect the quality of the assembly and, where applicable, identify regions of reduced assembly confidence. Based on such visualizations, users can conduct a local re-assembly or other forms of targeted error correction. Few, if any, contemporary software tools can visualize the coverage depth of a plastid genome assembly while taking its quadripartite structure into account, despite the interplay between genome structure and assembly quality. A software tool is needed that visualizes the coverage depth of a plastid genome assembly on a circular, quadripartite map of the plastid genome. Results: We introduce 9PACVr9, an R package that visualizes the coverage depth of a plastid genome assembly in relation to the circular, quadripartite structure of the genome as well as to the individual plastome genes. The tool allows visualizations on different scales using a variable window approach and also visualizes the equality of gene synteny in the inverted repeat regions of the plastid genome, thus providing an additional measure of assembly quality. As a tool for plastid genomics, PACVr provides the functionality to identify regions of coverage depth above or below user-defined threshold values and helps to identify non-identical IR regions. To allow easy integration into bioinformatic workflows, PACVr can be directly invoked from a Unix shell, thus facilitating its use in automated quality control. We illustrate the application of PACVr on two empirical datasets and compare the resulting visualizations with alternative software tools for displaying plastome sequencing coverage. Conclusions: PACVr provides a user-friendly tool to visualize (a) the coverage depth of a plastid genome assembly on a circular, quadripartite plastome map and in relation to individual plastome genes, and (b) the equality of gene synteny in the inverted repeat regions. It, thus, contributes to optimizing plastid genome assemblies and increasing the reliability of publicly available plastome sequences, especially in light of incongruence among the visualization results of alternative software tools. The software, example datasets, technical documentation, and a tutorial are available with the package at https://github.com/michaelgruenstaeudl/PACVr.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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