Metaxa: Automated detection and discrimination among ribosomal small subunit (12S/16S/18S) sequences of archaea, bacteria, eukaryotes, mitochondria, and chloroplasts
Poster (konferens), 2011

The ribosomal small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene has emerged as an important genetic marker for taxonomic identification in environmental sequencing datasets. However, the gene is not only present in the nuclear genome of eukaryotes and the core genome of prokaryotes, but also in the mitochondria and chloroplasts of eukaryotes. The SSU genes in the core genome, mitochondria and chloroplast are conceptually paralogous and should in most situations not be aligned and analyzed jointly, e.g. when estimating species diversity. Identifying the origin of SSU sequences in complex sequence datasets is a time-consuming and largely manual undertaking. To ease this situation, we have created Metaxa, an automated software tool to extract full-length and partial SSU sequences from larger sequence datasets and assign them to an archaeal, bacte- rial, nuclear eukaryote, mitochondrial, or chloroplast origin. Metaxa very efficiently detects SSU sequences from fragments as short as 200 base pairs, and correctly classifies 97% of the identified genes at read lengths typically obtained from pyrosequencing. In addition, Metaxa shows a false positive rate of 0.00012% when run on random DNA fragments, showing the robustness of the method. We believe that this tool will be useful in microbial and evolutionary ecology as well as in metagenomics.

SSU extraction

taxonomic assignment

16S extraction

rRNA extraction


Johan Bengtsson

Göteborgs universitet

Martin Eriksson

Göteborgs universitet

Martin Hartmann

Belle D Shenoy

G Grelet

Kessy Abarenkov

Anna Petri

Göteborgs universitet

Magnus Alm Rosenblad

Göteborgs universitet

R. Henrik Nilsson

Göteborgs universitet

SocBiN Bioinformatics Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 2011



Bioinformatik och systembiologi

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