2. Applying Digital Normalization

In this section, we’ll apply digital normalization and variable-coverage k-mer abundance trimming to the reads prior to assembly. This has the effect of reducing the computational cost of assembly without negatively affecting the quality of the assembly.


You’ll need ~15 GB of RAM for this, or more if you have a LOT of data.

Make sure you’ve got the PROJECT location defined, and your data is there:

set -u
printf "\nMy QC-trimmed files are in $PROJECT/quality/, and consist of $(ls -1 ${PROJECT}/quality/*.qc.fq.gz | wc -l) files\n\n"
set +u

Important: If you get an error above or the count of files is wrong... STOP!! Revisit the installation instructions for your compute platform!

Also, be sure you have loaded the right Python packages

source ~/venv/bin/activate

Run digital normalization

Make a new working directory for digital normalization and link in the files:

mkdir -p diginorm
cd diginorm
ln -s ../quality/*.qc.fq.gz .

Apply digital normalization to the paired-end reads

normalize-by-median.py -p -k 20 -C 20 -M 4e9 \
 --savegraph normC20k20.ct -u orphans.qc.fq.gz \

Note the -p in the normalize-by-median command – when run on PE data, that ensures that no paired ends are orphaned. The -u tells noralize-by-median that the following filename is unpaired.

Also note the -M parameter. This specifies how much memory diginorm should use, and should be less than the total memory on the computer you’re using. (See choosing hash sizes for khmer for more information.)

Trim off likely erroneous k-mers

Now, run through all the reads and trim off low-abundance parts of high-coverage reads

filter-abund.py -V -Z 18 normC20k20.ct *.keep && \
  rm *.keep normC20k20.ct

This will turn some reads into orphans when their partner read is removed by the trimming.

Rename files

You’ll have a bunch of keep.abundfilt files – let’s make things prettier.

First, let’s break out the orphaned and still-paired reads

for file in *.pe.*.abundfilt
  extract-paired-reads.py ${file} && \
        rm ${file}

We can combine all of the orphaned reads into a single file

gzip -9c orphans.qc.fq.gz.keep.abundfilt > orphans.keep.abundfilt.fq.gz && \
   rm orphans.qc.fq.gz.keep.abundfilt
for file in *.pe.*.abundfilt.se
   gzip -9c ${file} >> orphans.keep.abundfilt.fq.gz && \
       rm ${file}

We can also rename the remaining PE reads & compress those files

for file in *.abundfilt.pe
  mv ${file} ${newfile}
  gzip ${newfile}

This leaves you with a bunch of files named *.keep.abundfilt.fq.gz, which represent the paired-end/interleaved reads that remain after both digital normalization and error trimming, together with orphans.keep.abundfilt.fq.gz

Next: 3. Running the Actual Assembly.

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