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This article is part of the supplement: Selected articles from The Second Workshop on Data Mining of Next-Generation Sequencing in conjunction with the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine

Open Access Open Badges Research

A base composition analysis of natural patterns for the preprocessing of metagenome sequences

Oliver Bonham-Carter*, Hesham Ali and Dhundy Bastola

Author Affiliations

College of Information Science & Technology School of Interdisciplinary Informatics Peter Kiewit Institute University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE, USA

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BMC Bioinformatics 2013, 14(Suppl 11):S5  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-14-S11-S5

Published: 4 November 2013



On the pretext that sequence reads and contigs often exhibit the same kinds of base usage that is also observed in the sequences from which they are derived, we offer a base composition analysis tool. Our tool uses these natural patterns to determine relatedness across sequence data. We introduce spectrum sets (sets of motifs) which are permutations of bacterial restriction sites and the base composition analysis framework to measure their proportional content in sequence data. We suggest that this framework will increase the efficiency during the pre-processing stages of metagenome sequencing and assembly projects.


Our method is able to differentiate organisms and their reads or contigs. The framework shows how to successfully determine the relatedness between these reads or contigs by comparison of base composition. In particular, we show that two types of organismal-sequence data are fundamentally different by analyzing their spectrum set motif proportions (coverage). By the application of one of the four possible spectrum sets, encompassing all known restriction sites, we provide the evidence to claim that each set has a different ability to differentiate sequence data. Furthermore, we show that the spectrum set selection having relevance to one organism, but not to the others of the data set, will greatly improve performance of sequence differentiation even if the fragment size of the read, contig or sequence is not lengthy.


We show the proof of concept of our method by its application to ten trials of two or three freshly selected sequence fragments (reads and contigs) for each experiment across the six organisms of our set. Here we describe a novel and computationally effective pre-processing step for metagenome sequencing and assembly tasks. Furthermore, our base composition method has applications in phylogeny where it can be used to infer evolutionary distances between organisms based on the notion that related organisms often have much conserved code.