Despite the ever-increasing output of next-generation sequencing data along with developing assemblers, dozens to hundreds of gaps still exist in de novo microbial assemblies due to uneven coverage and large genomic repeats. Third-generation single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology avoids amplification artifacts and generates kilobase-long reads with the potential to complete microbial genome assembly. However, due to the low accuracy (~85%) of third-generation sequences, a considerable amount of long reads (>50X) are required for self-correction and for subsequent de novo assembly. Recently-developed hybrid approaches, using next-generation sequencing data and as few as 5X long reads, have been proposed to improve the completeness of microbial assembly. In this study we have evaluated the contemporary hybrid approaches and demonstrated that assembling corrected long reads (by runCA) produced the best assembly compared to long-read scaffolding (e.g., AHA, Cerulean and SSPACE-LongRead) and gap-filling (SPAdes). For generating corrected long reads, we further examined long-read correction tools, such as ECTools, LSC, LoRDEC, PBcR pipeline and proovread. We have demonstrated that three microbial genomes including Escherichia coli K12 MG1655, Meiothermus ruber DSM1279 and Pdeobacter heparinus DSM2366 were successfully hybrid assembled by runCA into near-perfect assemblies using ECTools-corrected long reads. In addition, we developed a tool, Patch, which implements corrected long reads and pre-assembled contigs as inputs, to enhance microbial genome assemblies. With the additional 20X long reads, short reads of S. cerevisiae W303 were hybrid assembled into 115 contigs using the verified strategy, ECTools + runCA. Patch was subsequently applied to upgrade the assembly to a 35-contig draft genome. Our evaluation of the hybrid approaches shows that assembling the ECTools-corrected long reads via runCA generates near complete microbial genomes, suggesting that genome assembly could benefit from re-analyzing the available hybrid datasets that were not assembled in an optimal fashion.
Journal: PloS one