Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Methodology article

Tracking chromosomal positions of oligomers - a case study with Illumina's BovineSNP50 beadchip

Armin O Schmitt, Ralf H Bortfeldt and Gudrun A Brockmann*

Author Affiliations

Department of Crop and Animal Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstraße 42, 10115 Berlin, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-80

Published: 1 February 2010



High density genotyping arrays have become established as a valuable research tool in human genetics. Currently, more than 300 genome wide association studies were published for human reporting about 1,000 SNPs that are associated with a phenotype. Also in animal sciences high density genotyping arrays are harnessed to analyse genetic variation. To exploit the full potential of this technology single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the chips should be well characterized and their chromosomal position should be precisely known. This, however, is a challenge if the genome sequence is still subject to changes.


We have developed a mapping strategy and a suite of software scripts to update the chromosomal positions of oligomer sequences used for SNP genotyping on high density arrays. We describe the mapping procedure in detail so that scientists with moderate bioinformatics skills can reproduce it. We furthermore present a case study in which we re-mapped 54,001 oligomer sequences from Ilumina's BovineSNP50 beadchip to the bovine genome sequence. We found in 992 cases substantial discrepancies between the manufacturer's annotations and our results. The software scripts in the Perl and R programming languages are provided as supplements.


The positions of oligomer sequences in the genome are volatile even within one build of the genome. To facilitate the analysis of data from a GWAS or from an expression study, especially with species whose genome assembly is still unstable, it is recommended to update the oligomer positions before data analysis.