3 years ago

IDTAXA: a novel approach for accurate taxonomic classification of microbiome sequences

Aniruddha Bhargava, Adithya Murali, Erik S. Wright



Microbiome studies often involve sequencing a marker gene to identify the microorganisms in samples of interest. Sequence classification is a critical component of this process, whereby sequences are assigned to a reference taxonomy containing known sequence representatives of many microbial groups. Previous studies have shown that existing classification programs often assign sequences to reference groups even if they belong to novel taxonomic groups that are absent from the reference taxonomy. This high rate of “over classification” is particularly detrimental in microbiome studies because reference taxonomies are far from comprehensive.


Here, we introduce IDTAXA, a novel approach to taxonomic classification that employs principles from machine learning to reduce over classification errors. Using multiple reference taxonomies, we demonstrate that IDTAXA has higher accuracy than popular classifiers such as BLAST, MAPSeq, QIIME, SINTAX, SPINGO, and the RDP Classifier. Similarly, IDTAXA yields far fewer over classifications on Illumina mock microbial community data when the expected taxa are absent from the training set. Furthermore, IDTAXA offers many practical advantages over other classifiers, such as maintaining low error rates across varying input sequence lengths and withholding classifications from input sequences composed of random nucleotides or repeats.


IDTAXA’s classifications may lead to different conclusions in microbiome studies because of the substantially reduced number of taxa that are incorrectly identified through over classification. Although misclassification error is relatively minor, we believe that many remaining misclassifications are likely caused by errors in the reference taxonomy. We describe how IDTAXA is able to identify many putative mislabeling errors in reference taxonomies, enabling training sets to be automatically corrected by eliminating spurious sequences. IDTAXA is part of the DECIPHER package for the R programming language, available through the Bioconductor repository or accessible online (http://DECIPHER.codes).

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40168-018-0521-5

DOI: 10.1186/s40168-018-0521-5

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.