Consensus assembly



A script to perform UMI-guided assembly



java -jar migec.jar AssembleBatch [options] checkout_output_folder/ histogram_output_folder/ output_folder/

Performs a batch assembly for all FASTQ files produced by checkout, all assembly parameters are set according to Histogram output.

One can specify a default mask telling for paired-end reads which mate(s) to assemble. The mask is provided by --default-mask <R1=[0,1]:R2=[0,1]> argument, i.e. to assemble only second mate use --default-mask 0:1. This speeds-up the assembly. Also, by default the mask is 1:1, so for each MIG an output consensus pair is created only if both consensuses are successfully assembled. In case of 0:0 mask will process only overlapped reads. Remember that during Checkout reads get re-oriented so they are on the same strand, corresponding to the strand of Master barcode and the read with Master barcode is assigned with *_R1* index.

A sample metadata file could also be provided with --sample-metadata <file_name> argument to guide the batch assembly. This file should have the following tab-separated table structure:

Sample ID File type Mask
S0 paired 1:0
S0 overlapped  
S1 unpaired  
S2 paired 0:1

Note that S0 is present with two file types, as when performing read overlap Checkout stores non-overlapped reads in *_R1/_R2* files, which could be then incorporated into data processing.

The --force-overseq X and --force-collision-filter will force a MIG size threshold of X and filtering of 1-mm UMI collisions for all samples being processed.


In most cases, the automatic MIG size threshold selected by Histogram routine is ok. However we strongly recommend manual inspection of Histogram output files and considering to manually specify an appropriate MIG size threshold for input samples. Our experience also shows that it is a good practice to set an identical size threshold for all samples in a batch.

Output format

The assembled consensuses are also stored in FASTQ format, however the read quality is now proportional to the relative frequency of the most frequent base at a given position. I.e. if 100% of bases in the position 5 are A the quality score will be Phred40 (I), while if only 27.1% of the bases are A and other bases have a frequency of 24.3% the quality will be Phred2 (#):


The UMI tag is also added to the header, the number X in the UMI tag field is the total number of reads that were assembled into a given consensus.



A script to perform UMI-guided assembly



java -jar migec.jar Assemble [options] R1.fastq[.gz] [. or R2.fastq[.gz]] output_folder

Unpaired and overlapped FASTQ:

java -jar migec.jar Assemble -c checkout/S1_R0.fastq.gz . assembly/

Paired FASTQ:

java -jar migec.jar Assemble -c checkout/S1_R1.fastq.gz checkout/S1_R2.fastq.gz ./assembly/

Paired FASTQ with only second read to be assembled:

java -jar migec.jar Assemble -c --mask 0:1 checkout/S1_R1.fastq.gz checkout/S1_R2.fastq.gz assembly/

All reads are grouped by their UMI and then read groups (aka molecular identifier groups, MIGs) with >10 reads (default value, see Histogram section for details on setting it) are assembled. Multiple alignment is performed and consensus sequence is generated. Note that for paired reads both consensuses should be successfully assembled, otherwise the pair is dropped.

Automatic output file naming convention is used for compatibility with batch operations. Output file name will be appended with _R0 for unpaired FASTQ file, with either _R1 and _R2 for the corresponding paired FASTQ file and with _R12 for overlapped FASTQ file. Output file name will also include MIG size threshold used.


The --mask <R1=[0,1]:R2=[0,1]> parameter indicates FASTQ files to be assembled in paired-end data. By default both reads are assembled. In case of 0:0 mask will process only overlapped reads.

The -c option indicates compressed output.

The -m option sets minimum number of reads in MIG. This should be set according to Histogram script output to separate two peaks: over-sequenced MIGs and erroneous MIGs that cluster around MIG size of 1.


To inspect the effect of such single-mismatch erroneous UMI sub-variants see “collisions” output of Histogram script. Such collision events could interfere with real MIGs when over-sequencing is relatively low. In this case collisions could be filtered during MIG consensus assembly using --filter-collisions option in AssembleBatch routine. When using Assemble routine use --force-collision-filter command to turn collision filter on. The child-to-parent ratio for collision filtering (size of larger and smaller UMIs that differ by a single mismatch) is controlled by the --collision-ratio parameter (default is --collision-ratio 0.1).


The --only-first-read option can greatly improve assembly quality in case of poor second read quality and allows consensus assembly for asymmetric reads (e.g. 400+200bp sequencing design). If using this option, don’t forget to set --only-first-read in Histogram util to correctly calculate MIG size threshold.

Summary statistics

MIG consensus assembly report will be stored in the assemble.log.txt file which contains basic information such as the fraction of assembled reads and the final number of assembled consensuses. It summarizes both filtering based on MIG size and the consistency of read sequence within the same MIG:

  • The MIGS_* counters show the number of MIGs that were processed (MIGS_TOTAL) and were successfully assigned with consensus sequences (MIGS_GOOD_*).
  • In case of paired-end sequencing separate statistic is provided for both R1 and R2 (MIGS_GOOD_FASTQ1 and MIGS_GOOD_FASTQ2). The total counter (MIGS_GOOD_TOTAL) reflects number of UMI tags for which both R1 and R2 MIGs were successfully assembled.
  • The total number of reads in assembled MIGs and all MIGs is provided in READS_GOOD_* and READS_TOTAL columns respectively.

MIGs can be dropped from the assembly and marked as bad ones for the following reasons:

  • MIGs with a size less then the specified size threshold value will be dropped (see --force-overseq and -m options), as well as MIGs that correpsond to erroneous UMI variants (see --filter-collisions option).
  • Reads that have too many mismatches when compared to the consensus sequence will be dropped, which is reflected by READS_DROPPED_WITHIN_MIG statistic. In case a high percentage of reads within MIG is dropped/final MIG size is less than the threshold the entire MIG will be dropped for the analysis.


Additional pre-filtering of UMI tags identified by Checkout utility is performed by removing UMI tag sequences with a minimum Phred quality score below the one specified by the -q parameter (default is 15). Thus, the READS_TOTAL can be somewhat smaller than the total number of reads for a given sample in the checkout.log.txt