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kmtricks: efficient and flexible construction of Bloom filters for large sequencing data collections

Updated: May 29

Bioinformatics Advances

Téo Lemane, Paul Medvedev, Rayan Chikhi, Pierre Peterlongo

When indexing large collections of short-read sequencing data, a common operation that has now been implemented in several tools (Sequence Bloom Trees and variants, BIGSI) is to construct a collection of Bloom filters, one per sample. Each Bloom filter is used to represent a set of k-mers which approximates the desired set of all the non-erroneous k-mers present in the sample. However, this approximation is imperfect, especially in the case of metagenomics data. Erroneous but abundant k-mers are wrongly included, and non-erroneous but low-abundant ones are wrongly discarded. We propose kmtricks, a novel approach for generating Bloom filters from terabase-sized collections of sequencing data. Our main contributions are (i) an efficient method for jointly counting k-mers across multiple samples, including a streamlined Bloom filter construction by directly counting, partitioning and sorting hashes instead of k-mers, which is approximately four times faster than state-of-the-art tools; (ii) a novel technique that takes advantage of joint counting to preserve low-abundant k-mers present in several samples, improving the recovery of non-erroneous k-mers. Our experiments highlight that this technique preserves around 8× more k-mers than the usual yet crude filtering of low-abundance k-mers in a large metagenomics dataset.

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