Question: generating a reasonable consensus with bcftools + vcf-consensus
gravatar for mths_b
6 months ago by
mths_b10 wrote:


I want to generate a consensus sequence using a bam alignment from a specific genome location. This consensus must include indels, and call IUPAC ambiguity codes for heterozygous sites. Ideally I would like to be able to call a highest quality (based on phred score), majority consensus sequence (i.e. most common bases, fewest ambiguities).

I've read many discussions about how to do that and the best solution I came up was to: 1) map reads to genome fasta file, get the bam alignment; 2) generate a reference fasta file in which regions with zero coverage are masked (using bedtools genomecov + bedtools maskfasta) - this allows me to deal with deleted regions in my sample, then:

samtools mpileup -uf reference_masked.fasta sample.sorted.bam -l coordinates.bed | bcftools call -vm -Oz - > output.vcf.gz
tabix -p vcf output.vcf.gz
samtools faidx reference_masked.fasta chr:start-end | vcf-consensus output.vcf.gz | bgzip > consensus.fasta.gz

It does give me a fair consensus sequence. Indeed, masking regions with no coverage before calling the SNPs seems to give a better consensus. However, when I examine the same bam alignment in Geneious, I realize that for many sites it is calling the REFERENCE base instead of my SAMPLE base with no apparent reason.

For example, in some sites, I have 4 reads calling a "G" and none calling a "C" (which is the base in the reference sequence), but the consensus give me a "C" . I thought that was a problem of coverage, but in other cases I also have 4 reads calling "T" and the consensus is really "T", although the reference is "C". Also, in other sites where I have 9 reads (which is a quite high coverage) calling "A", it calls "G" instead, which is the reference base. It does not seem to be a matter of quality, since these were all high quality (>20) bases.

In the example above I've used medium coverage datasets (~10x). However, I also want to be able to call consensus sequences from low coverage data (~1x). I suppose I would have to use different settings in this last case, and I am aware of issues with low coverage data.

Any suggestions for this issue? I really appreciate any help you guys can provide.

Thank you!

snp bam consensus • 489 views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 6 months ago • written 6 months ago by mths_b10

I'm also having this issue. There doesn't seem to be any prebaked solution to converting an mpileup to a consensus sequence that will include both SNPs and INDELs. Even when I can see the deletion in the alignment in igv, and the pileup recognizes it, the resulting vcf going through bcftools gets rid of the indel!

ADD REPLYlink written 6 months ago by donutbrew0
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