Poster presented at the 2018 Biological Data Science conference
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.

Building decentralized indexes for public genomic data

Luiz Carlos Irber Júnior

  • Department of Population Health and Reproduction, University of California, Davis, USA

Poster presented at Biological Data Science 2018.


wort is a database for sourmash signatures, providing APIs to allow searching public genomic databases for dataset similarity, performing taxonomic classification of samples and submission of signatures for inclusion in search indexes. The main goal for wort is to create a resource that allows permissive improvements without depending on central coordination, using decentralized web technologies like IPFS and dat as building blocks.

A sourmash signature is a collection of MinHash sketches with the same original dataset but distinct parameters. A MinHash sketch is a data structure that allows fast similarity estimates for datasets, first used by Mash with genomic data. In sourmash we extended MinHash sketches to take the complexity of the dataset into account and avoid configuration fatigue.

These signatures are most useful when there are many of them available, especially from public genomic databases like RefSeq or the SRA. sourmash also includes a Sequence Bloom Tree implementation for indexing MinHashes, allowing both searching for similarity and taxonomic classification of datasets. But there is no functionality to make it easier to share these indexes, and it is up to the user to send these sketches around or build their own indexes.

wort also aims to explore data locality on networks to overcome the bandwidth limitations in centralized databases, and move data preprocessing into web browsers using Webassembly to allow novel solutions where the user data doesn't need to leave their computers to be able to participate in the ecosystem.

It is available at

Table of Contents


  • Benet, Juan. 2014. “IPFS - Content Addressed, Versioned, P2P File System.” arXiv:1407.3561 [Cs], July.
  • Broder, Andrei Z. 1997. “On the Resemblance and Containment of Documents.” In Compression and Complexity of Sequences 1997. Proceedings, 21–29. IEEE.
  • Ogden, Maxwell. n.d. “Dat - Distributed Dataset Synchronization And Versioning.”. doi:10.31219/
  • Ondov, Brian D., Todd J. Treangen, Páll Melsted, Adam B. Mallonee, Nicholas H. Bergman, Sergey Koren, and Adam M. Phillippy. 2016. “Mash: Fast Genome and Metagenome Distance Estimation Using MinHash.” Genome Biology 17: 132. doi:10.1186/s13059-016-0997-x.
  • Solomon, Brad, and Carl Kingsford. 2016. “Fast Search of Thousands of Short-Read Sequencing Experiments.” Nature Biotechnology 34 (3): 300–302. doi:10.1038/nbt.3442.
  • Torre, Denis, Alexander Lachmann, and Avi Ma’ayan. 2018. “BioJupies: Automated Generation of Interactive Notebooks for RNA-Seq Data Analysis in the Cloud.” BioRxiv, June, 352476. doi:10.1101/352476.
  • Titus Brown, C., and Luiz Irber. 2016. “sourmash: A Library for MinHash Sketching of DNA.” The Journal of Open Source Software 1 (5). doi:10.21105/joss.00027.