Floria: Fast and accurate strain haplotyping in metagenomes
Jim Shaw, Jean-Sebastien Gounot, Hanrong Chen, Niranjan Nagarajan and Yun William Yu

Shotgun metagenomics allows for direct analysis of microbial community genetics, but scalable computational methods for the recovery of bacterial strain genomes from microbiomes remains a key challenge. We introduce Floria, a novel method designed for rapid and accurate recovery of strain haplotypes from short and long-read metagenome sequencing data, based on minimum error correction (MEC) read clustering and a strain-preserving network flow model. Floria can function as a standalone haplotyping method, outputting alleles and reads that co-occur on the same strain, as well as an end-to-end read-to-assembly pipeline (Floria-PL) for strain-level assembly. Benchmarking evaluations on synthetic metagenomes showed that Floria is > 3x faster and recovers 21% more strain content than base-level assembly methods (Strainberry), while being over an order of magnitude faster when only phasing is required. Applying Floria to a set of 109 deeply sequenced nanopore metagenomes took < 20 minutes on average per sample, and identified several species that have consistent strain heterogeneity. Applying Floria’s short-read haplotyping to a longitudinal gut metagenomics dataset revealed a dynamic multi-strain Anaerostipes hadrus community with frequent strain loss and emergence events over 636 days. With Floria, accurate haplotyping of metagenomic datasets takes mere minutes on standard workstations, paving the way for extensive strain-level metagenomic analyses.

Reference-free Structural Variant Detection in Microbiomes via Long-read Coassembly Graphs
Kristen Curry, Feiqiao Yu, Summer Vance, Santiago Segarra, Devaki Bhaya, Rayan Chikhi, Eduardo Rocha and Todd Treangen

Bacterial genome dynamics are vital for understanding the mechanisms underlying microbial adaptation, growth, and their broader impact on host phenotype. Structural variants (SVs), genomic alterations of 10 base pairs or more, play a pivotal role in driving evolutionary processes and maintaining genomic heterogeneity within bacterial populations. While SV detection in isolate genomes is relatively straightforward, metagenomes present broader challenges due to absence of clear reference genomes and presence of mixed strains. In response, our proposed method rhea, forgoes reference genomes and metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) by encompassing a single metagenome coassembly graph constructed from all samples in a series. The log fold change in graph coverage between subsequent samples is then calculated to call SVs that are thriving or declining throughout the series. We show rhea to outperform existing methods for SV and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) detection in two simulated mock metagenomes, which is particularly noticeable as the simulated reads diverge from reference genomes and an increase in strain diversity is incorporated. We additionally demonstrate use cases for rhea on series metagenomic data of environmental and fermented food microbiomes to detect specific sequence alterations between subsequent time and temperature samples, suggesting host advantage. Our innovative approach leverages raw read patterns rather than references or MAGs to include all sequencing reads in analysis, and thus provide versatility in studying SVs across diverse and poorly characterized microbial communities for more comprehensive insights into microbial genome dynamics.


Towards more accurate microbial source tracking via non-negative matrix factorization (NMF)
Ziyi Huang, Dehan Cai and Yanni Sun

Motivation: The microbiome of a sampled habitat often consists of microbial communities from various sources, including potential contaminants. Microbial source tracking (MST) can be used to discern the contribution of each source to the observed microbiome data, thus enabling the identification and tracking of microbial communities within a sample. Therefore, MST has various applications, from monitoring microbial contamination in clinical labs to tracing the source of pollution in environmental samples. Despite promising results in MST development, there is still room for improvement, particularly for applications where precise quantification of each source’s contribution is critical.
Results: In this study, we introduce a novel tool called SourceID-NMF towards more precise microbial source tracking. SourceID-NMF utilizes a non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) algorithm to trace the microbial sources contributing to a target sample, without assuming specific probability distributions. By leveraging the taxa abundance in both available sources and the target sample, SourceID-NMF estimates the proportion of available sources present in the target sample. To evaluate the performance of SourceID-NMF, we conducted a series of benchmarking experiments using simulated and real data. The simulated experiments mimic realistic yet challenging scenarios for identifying highly similar sources, irrelevant sources, unknown sources, low abundance sources, and noise sources. The results demonstrate the superior accuracy of SourceID-NMF over existing methods. Particularly, SourceID-NMF accurately estimated the proportion of irrelevant and unknown sources while other tools either over- or under-estimated them. Additionally, the noise sources experiment also demonstrated the robustness of SourceID-NMF for MST.

Scalable de novo Classification of Antimicrobial Resistance of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Mohammadali Serajian, Simone Marini, Jarno N. Alanko, Noelle R. Noyes, Mattia Prosperi and Christina Boucher

We develop a robust machine learning classifier using both linear and nonlinear models (i.e., LASSO logistic regression (LR) and random forests (RF)) to predict the phenotypic resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) for a broad range of antibiotic drugs. We use data from the CRyPTIC consortium to train our classifier, which consists of whole genome sequencing and antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) phenotypic data for 13 different antibiotics. To train our model, we assemble the sequence data into genomic contigs, identify all unique 31-mers in the set of contigs, and build a feature matrix M, where M[i,j] is equal to the number of times the i-th 31-mer occurs in the j-th genome. Due to the size of this feature matrix (over 350 million unique 31-mers), we build and use a sparse matrix representation. Our method, which we refer to as MTB++, leverages compact data structures and iterative methods to allow for the screening of all the 31-mers in the development of both LASSO LR and RF. MTB++ is able to achieve high discrimination (F-1 greater than 80%) for the first-line antibiotics. Moreover, MTB++ had the highest F-1 score in all but three classes and was the most comprehensive since it had an F-1 score greater than 75% in all but four (rare) antibiotic drugs. We use our feature selection to contextualize the 31-mers that are used for the prediction of phenotypic resistance, leading to some insights about sequence similarity to genes in MEGARes.