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      UCHIME improves sensitivity and speed of chimera detection


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          Motivation: Chimeric DNA sequences often form during polymerase chain reaction amplification, especially when sequencing single regions (e.g. 16S rRNA or fungal Internal Transcribed Spacer) to assess diversity or compare populations. Undetected chimeras may be misinterpreted as novel species, causing inflated estimates of diversity and spurious inferences of differences between populations. Detection and removal of chimeras is therefore of critical importance in such experiments.

          Results: We describe UCHIME, a new program that detects chimeric sequences with two or more segments. UCHIME either uses a database of chimera-free sequences or detects chimeras de novo by exploiting abundance data. UCHIME has better sensitivity than ChimeraSlayer (previously the most sensitive database method), especially with short, noisy sequences. In testing on artificial bacterial communities with known composition, UCHIME de novo sensitivity is shown to be comparable to Perseus. UCHIME is >100× faster than Perseus and >1000× faster than ChimeraSlayer.

          Contact: robert@ 123456drive5.com

          Availability: Source, binaries and data: http://drive5.com/uchime.

          Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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          Most cited references15

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          Bellerophon: a program to detect chimeric sequences in multiple sequence alignments.

          Bellerophon is a program for detecting chimeric sequences in multiple sequence datasets by an adaption of partial treeing analysis. Bellerophon was specifically developed to detect 16S rRNA gene chimeras in PCR-clone libraries of environmental samples but can be applied to other nucleotide sequence alignments. Bellerophon is available as an interactive web server at http://foo.maths.uq.edu.au/~huber/bellerophon.pl
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            At least 1 in 20 16S rRNA sequence records currently held in public repositories is estimated to contain substantial anomalies.

            A new method for detecting chimeras and other anomalies within 16S rRNA sequence records is presented. Using this method, we screened 1,399 sequences from 19 phyla, as defined by the Ribosomal Database Project, release 9, update 22, and found 5.0% to harbor substantial errors. Of these, 64.3% were obvious chimeras, 14.3% were unidentified sequencing errors, and 21.4% were highly degenerate. In all, 11 phyla contained obvious chimeras, accounting for 0.8 to 11% of the records for these phyla. Many chimeras (43.1%) were formed from parental sequences belonging to different phyla. While most comprised two fragments, 13.7% were composed of at least three fragments, often from three different sources. A separate analysis of the Bacteroidetes phylum (2,739 sequences) also revealed 5.8% records to be anomalous, of which 65.4% were apparently chimeric. Overall, we conclude that, as a conservative estimate, 1 in every 20 public database records is likely to be corrupt. Our results support concerns recently expressed over the quality of the public repositories. With 16S rRNA sequence data increasingly playing a dominant role in bacterial systematics and environmental biodiversity studies, it is vital that steps be taken to improve screening of sequences prior to submission. To this end, we have implemented our method as a program with a simple-to-use graphic user interface that is capable of running on a range of computer platforms. The program is called Pintail, is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License open source license, and is freely available from our website at http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/biosi/research/biosoft/.
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              PCR-induced sequence artifacts and bias: insights from comparison of two 16S rRNA clone libraries constructed from the same sample.

              The contribution of PCR artifacts to 16S rRNA gene sequence diversity from a complex bacterioplankton sample was estimated. Taq DNA polymerase errors were found to be the dominant sequence artifact but could be constrained by clustering the sequences into 99% sequence similarity groups. Other artifacts (chimeras and heteroduplex molecules) were significantly reduced by employing modified amplification protocols. Surprisingly, no skew in sequence types was detected in the two libraries constructed from PCR products amplified for different numbers of cycles. Recommendations for modification of amplification protocols and for reporting diversity estimates at 99% sequence similarity as a standard are given.

                Author and article information

                Oxford University Press
                15 August 2011
                23 June 2011
                23 June 2011
                : 27
                : 16
                : 2194-2200
                1Tiburon, CA, USA, 2Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program, The Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA 02142, 3Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA and 4School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LT, UK
                Author notes
                * To whom correspondence should be addressed.

                Associate Editor: Martin Bishop

                © The Author(s) 2011. Published by Oxford University Press.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 6 April 2011
                : 30 May 2011
                : 16 June 2011
                Page count
                Pages: 7
                Original Papers
                Sequence Analysis

                Bioinformatics & Computational biology
                Bioinformatics & Computational biology


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