BBduk ftm parameter
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3.3 years ago

The ftm parameter from BBduk, trims to a certain modulo (usually 5) . I understand that is the desired behaviour to trim reads that are 151bp long (in stead of expected 150). However I now noticed that the files I get from the seq provider are not raw raw anymore and I guess that already did some adapter removal (still waiting on confirmation of this) and are thus not all 150 (151) bp anymore. In this case if I run BBduk with ftm=5 I will also trim back reads that are 149bp to 145, right? (I do see a small peak appearing at 145bp in my fastQC length graph ).

I'm wondering what the advice would be in this specific case, run BBduk with ftm=5 and potentially loose OK bases or not use the ftm=5 at all? I assume there is no way to tell BBduk to only ftm when the read is longer than 150bp?

BBduk parameters • 1.0k views
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If the length of your reads ranges from 35-151bp, most likely adapters were trimmed during bcl to fastq conversion.

The recommendation for these extra 1bp is to trim just the extra 1bp, no need to trim 5bp. I don't think this extra bp will have a big impact on downstream analyses anyway, but I never tested nor seen this tested. I've seen a post showing the extra base to be mostly erroneous, when mapping to a reference. I think it was a SeqAnswers post by Brian Bushnell, but i can't find it again.

What are the downstream analyses you want to perform?

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Last base is not erroneous but the Q score may be off since there is no phasing information available. I second the advice that you should not worry about the last base or modulo.

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in the 151st position of the fastQC plots I observe a high bias in base composition, as well as quality.

So yes, just trimming off one base was my next option but then again I might be trimming off OK bases as well no? I think it all comes down to (not) having an option to specifically target the 151bp reads ?

The downstream is genome assembly.

I read here and there that the adapter removal done by bcl2ftasq is not super accurate, is that correct? (aka, should I invest in more rigorous adapter removal)? I don't see any indication of adapter presence though in the fastQC result

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It would not hurt to scan/trim the data with bbduk again with the tbo tpe options to get any remaining adapter bases. You can also separate the reads that are longer than 150 bp, do a forcetrimright=0 and then put the resulting reads back in the original pool.

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excellent suggestion genomax , thx

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If I add/use the ftr=149 parameter I would be fine, no? then I'm trimming everything back to 150bp length (and will thus not touch any of the shorter reads)?

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Would that not remove 149 bases (force trim bases on right) on right leaving one/two leftmost? I always test with a small set of sequences.

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I agree there is a possibility for confusion, but I understand otherwise from the BBduk manual:

Force-Trimming:

bbduk.sh in=reads.fq out=clean.fq ftl=10 ftr=139

This will trim the leftmost 10 bases (ftl=10) and also trim the right end after to position 139 (zero-based). The resulting read would be 130bp long. For example, a 150bp read would have the first 10 bases trimmed (bases 0-9, keeping 10+) and the last 10 bases trimmed (bases 140-149, keeping 139 and lower).

and there I'm confused myself, it should then be ftr=150 in my case?

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0 position is the beginning of the read so both options count from the beginning of the read. For a programmer this sort of stuff is second nature but I need to think twice. You are correct.

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after running some test it turns out ftr=149 is the way to go.

getting somewhat off-topic here but I start to question/wonder about the applicability of the ftm parameter of bbduk?

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One thing to knock BBTools is an over abundance of parameters. Some may have been put in to address very specific use cases that are not widely applicable. I have never used ftm.

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3.3 years ago

To neatly finish this I'll post my own answer.

In the end I decided to drop the ftm parameter at all and to went for the ftr one in stead . That one can be set to do exactly what I want to achieve, being to trim off 1 base when the read is longer then 150bp but leave all other reads as they are.

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