Email updates

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

This article is part of the supplement: Tenth International Conference on Bioinformatics. First ISCB Asia Joint Conference 2011 (InCoB/ISCB-Asia 2011): Computational Biology

Open Access Open Badges Proceedings

Analysis of 16S rRNA environmental sequences using MEGAN

Suparna Mitra*, Mario Stärk and Daniel H Huson

Author Affiliations

Center for Bioinformatics ZBIT, Tübingen University, Sand 14, 72076 Tübingen, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2011, 12(Suppl 3):S17  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-S3-S17

Published: 30 November 2011



Metagenomics is a rapidly growing field of research aimed at studying assemblages of uncultured organisms using various sequencing technologies, with the hope of understanding the true diversity of microbes, their functions, cooperation and evolution. There are two main approaches to metagenomics: amplicon sequencing, which involves PCR-targeted sequencing of a specific locus, often 16S rRNA, and random shotgun sequencing. Several tools or packages have been developed for analyzing communities using 16S rRNA sequences. Similarly, a number of tools exist for analyzing randomly sequenced DNA reads.


We describe an extension of the metagenome analysis tool MEGAN, which allows one to analyze 16S sequences. For the analysis all 16S sequences are blasted against the SILVA database. The result output is imported into MEGAN, using a synonym file that maps the SILVA accession numbers onto the NCBI taxonomy.


Environmental samples are often studied using both targeted 16S rRNA sequencing and random shotgun sequencing. Hence tools are needed that allow one to analyze both types of data together, and one such tool is MEGAN. The ideas presented in this paper are implemented in MEGAN 4, which is available from: webcite.