Abundance estimation and differential testing on strain level in metagenomics data

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Current metagenomics approaches allow analyzing the composition of microbial communities at high resolution. Important changes to the composition are known to even occur on strain level and to go hand in hand with changes in disease or ecological state. However, specific challenges arise for strain level analysis due to highly similar genome sequences present. Only a limited number of tools approach taxa abundance estimation beyond species level and there is a strong need for dedicated tools for strain resolution and differential abundance testing.


We present DiTASiC (Differential Taxa Abundance including Similarity Correction) as a novel approach for quantification and differential assessment of individual taxa in metagenomics samples. We introduce a generalized linear model for the resolution of shared read counts which cause a significant bias on strain level. Further, we capture abundance estimation uncertainties, which play a crucial role in differential abundance analysis. A novel statistical framework is built, which integrates the abundance variance and infers abundance distributions for differential testing sensitive to strain level.


As a result, we obtain highly accurate abundance estimates down to sub-strain level and enable fine-grained resolution of strain clusters. We demonstrate the relevance of read ambiguity resolution and integration of abundance uncertainties for differential analysis. Accurate detections of even small changes are achieved and false-positives are significantly reduced. Superior performance is shown on latest benchmark sets of various complexities and in comparison to existing methods.

Availability and Implementation:

DiTASiC code is freely available from https://rki_bioinformatics.gitlab.io/ditasic.



Supplementary information:

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles