Skip to content
Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time

0. Installation

From source

To install mrsFAST-Ultra, first you should fetch it from our git repository, or download one of the corresponding compressed zip/tar.gz packages. After downloading, change the current directory to the source directory mrsfast, and run make in the terminal. The mrsfast and snp_indexer binaries will be created, which are ready to use.

git clone
cd mrsfast

If you are interested in a particular version, after downloading the git repo, checkout the that version and do make.

git clone
cd mrsfast
git checkout v3.3.0

From release

Alternatively, you can go to releases page and click on the desired version and then click on download the zip or tar file, switch to directory and run make.

To grab sample data and test mrsfast, please download it from our git repository or the compressed package.

git clone mrsfast/sample-data -b sample-data

Note that the current version of mrsFAST-Ultra requires 64 bit architecture and does not support 32 bit machines.

From bioconda

Install conda and run:

conda install -c bioconda mrsfast

1. Indexing Reference Genome

In order to map read sequences to a reference genome, mrsFAST-Ultra first needs to creata an index from the genome fasta file. This command will create the file genome.fa.index.

$ ./mrsfast --index genome.fa

By default, the indexing window size (length of hash values stored in the index hash table) is 12. This value could be also determined with the --ws option. A maximum value of 14 would be logical for window size. Larger values could lead to excessive memory usage in the mapping stage.

$ ./mrsfast --index genome.fa --ws 14

2. Mapping Options

To perform read mapping, mrsFAST-Ultra should be executed with the --search option. By default, mrsFAST-Ultra is a all-mapper tool. This means that it finds and reports all the mappings for each input read. If no option is provided, mrsFAST-Ultra performs single-end mapping. This is an example of running mrsFAST-Ultra for mapping read sequences in the sample reads.fq file.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq

By default, mrsFAST-Ultra sets the maximum error threshold to 6% so that %94 similarity between reads and genome is guaranteed. The error threshold could also be set using the -e option. Setting this value to zero means that only exact matches are desired.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4

To trim input reads to a shorter length, --crop option can be used. For example if the input reads are of length 100 and --crop 40 is used, only the first 40 base pairs of each read would be read and used for mapping.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --crop 40

Alternatively, you may crop from tail of the reads by using --tail-crop.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --tail-crop 40

mrsFAST-Ultra is able to perform mapping on multiple CPU cores in a parallel manner. The number of threads is determined using the --threads option. The default value is 1 which runs mrsFAST-Ultra on a single thread. If --threads is set to 0, mrsFAST-Ultra will use all the available cores in the system.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --threads 4

When huge volumes of input reads are required to be mapped on a machine with limited memory resources, mrsFAST-Ultra is capable of adjusting itself with the specified memory limits. The total memory (in GB) available for running mrsFAST-Ultra should be specified with the --mem option. In this mode, mrsFAST-Ultra might perform mapping in several iterations and each time it only loads as many reads as allowed by the memory limit.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --mem 8

In the limited mapping mode, mrsFAST-Ultra reports only up to a specified number of mappings for each read. The -n option sets the maximum number of mappings per read. Reads with mapping more than this value will not be printed in the output. This option is valid in both single-end and paired-end modes, but could not be used together with best mapping (--best) and paired-end discordant mode (--discordant-vh).

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 -n 100

In best mapping mode, for each read mrsFAST-Ultra reports a single best location which has the smallest hamming distance among all of its possible mappings. In case of a tie, one of the mapping locations with the smallest hamming distance is reported at random. This option cannot be used in paired-end discordant mode (--discordant-vh).

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --best

Except the cases that are pointed out, obviously any combination of the above options can be used together in any of the single-end and paired-end modes.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq --crop 60 -e 2 --mem 6 --threads 4 -n 100 -o mappings.sam --disable-nohits

3. Paired-end Mapping

As mentioned above, by default mrsFAST-Ultra will run in single-end mode. The paired-end mapping options is invoked using the --pe option. If the reads are in two different files, --seq1 and --seq2 should be used to indicate the input files. If the reads are interleaved in a single file, --seq is used to indicated the file.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq interleaved-reads.fq --pe -e 4
$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq1 mates1.fq --seq2 mates2.fq --pe -e 4

If the distance range between condordant pairs is not specified as above, mrsFAST-Ultra automatically decides about this range according to the mean and standard deviation of distances observed among the mates. The distance allowed between the paired-end reads should be specified with --min and --max. These values specify the minimum and maximum of the template length (the distance between outer edges of the mapping mates).

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq1 mates1.fq --seq2 mates2.fq --pe -e 4 --min 100 --max 500

Again, any combination of the introduced mapping options could be used in the paired-end mode.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq1 mates1.fq --seq2 mates2.fq --pe -e 4 --min 100 --max 500 --threads 4 --best -o mappings.sam

mrsFAST-Ultra can report discordant paired-end mappings for structural variation detection using Variation Hunter. In this mode the --min and --max options will define the minimum and maximum inferred size for concordant mappings.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq1 mates1.fq --seq2 mates2.fq --discordant-vh -e 4 --min 100 --max 500

In paired-end discordant mode, an upper bound can be defined for maximum number of discordant mappings per read. This values is determined by --max-discordant-cutoff option. This option is only applicable in paired-end discordant mode.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq1 mates1.fq --seq2 mates2.fq --discordant-vh -e 4 \ 
  --min 100 --max 500 --max-discordant-cutoff 300

4. SNP-aware mode

mrsFAST-Ultra is able to do sequence mapping in SNP-aware mode. In this mode mrsFAST-Ultra tolerates the mismatches in known SNP locations provided by dbSNP database (see sample file dbSNP.vcf). To run in this mode, first, the snp_indexer binary should be used to create an index from the input dbSNP (vcf) file. The following command reads the sample dbSNP.vcf file and creates snp.index which is only readable by mrsFAST-Ultra. The current vcf format that is accepted by mrsFAST-Ultra is vcf version 4.

$ ./snp_indexer dbSNP.vcf snp.index

In the next step, using --snp option mrsFAST-Ultra accepts the snp.index file as an input, and therefore ignores all mismatches occurring in the known SNP locations. The following command line executes mrsFAST-Ultra in SNP-aware mode using the index file created in last step.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --snp snp.index

To be able to distinguish mismatches occurring as a result of sequencing errors, and those caused by SNPs, mrsFAST-Ultra considers a quality threshold such that a mismatch at a reported SNP location will be ignored only if the corresponding read location has a quality higher than or equal to that quality threshold; otherwise the mismatch would affect the mapping as it is more probably caused by sequencing errors. The value of this threshold is set by the --snp-qual option. The default value is 53.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -e 4 --snp snp.index --snp-qual 60

The SNP-aware mode could be run together with any other combination of options both in single-end and paired-end modes (except --discordant-vh).

5. Input and Output Options

By default, mrsfast-Ultra outputs the mapping results in output which is written in standard SAM format. Also in single-end mode, the set of unmapped reads are printed in output.nohit file. The name of sam and nohit files can be set by the -o option.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -o mappings.sam

The name of the nohit file can be determined by the -u option.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -o mappings.sam -u unmapped

If the nohit file is not desired as output, it could be omitted by adding --disable-nohits.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -o mappings.sam --disable-nohits

The --outcomp option can be used to compress the mrsFAST-Ultra output file in gzip format.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -o mappings.sam --outcomp

mrsFAST-Ultra can process the input (FASTA/FASTQ) read files in compressed .gz format, using the --seqcomp option.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seqcomp --seq reads.fq.gz -o mappings.sam

By default, mrsFAST-Ultra includes a SAM header in the output file. To make sure the SAM header does not appear in the output, --disable-sam-header can be used.

$ ./mrsfast --search genome.fa --seq reads.fq -o mappings.sam --disable-sam-header

6. mrsFAST-Ultra man page

To view the full list of mrsFAST-Ultra options and their descriptions, please run the following.

$ ./mrsfast -h

7. Citation

If you use mrsfast, please cite its paper:

Hach, F. et al. mrsFAST: a cache-oblivious algorithm for short-read mapping. Nature Methods 7, 576–577 (2010)


mrsFAST: micro-read substitution-only Fast Alignment Search Tool







No packages published