Nextstrain build for novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

Overview of remote nCoV files (intermediate build assets)

This page provides an overview of intermediate files which Nextstrain produces. Where appropriate, these files can be starting points for the ncov pipeline (discussed below).

We have two GitHub repositories which routinely upload files to S3 buckets: ncov-ingest and ncov. Each of those runs separate pipelines for GISAID and GenBank (aka “open”) data sources; these pipelines start with data curation and QC steps and end with the phylogenetic analyses you can see on

The GISAID data is stored at s3://nextstrain-ncov-private and is not publicly available, in line with the GISAID Terms of Use (this is used internally by Nextstrain).

The open (GenBank) data is available in the public AWS bucket s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open. These open data are also mirrored daily to the public GCP bucket gs://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open. Our intention is to make GenBank intermediate files open and available for everyone to use, and to keep these files up-to-date.

All available genomes and metadata

Entire metadata & sequences data is uploaded from the ncov-ingest workflows for each of the gisaid and open sources:

  • metadata.tsv.gz
  • sequences.fasta.gz
  • nextclade.tsv.gz
  • additional_info.tsv.gz (GISAID only)
  • flagged_metadata.txt.gz (GISAID only)

The ncov repository contains two Nextstrain-only workflows which use the above data to generate our analyses visible on A side-effect of this is the creation and upload of processed versions of the entire dataset:

  • aligned.fasta.xz alignment via nextalign. The default reference genome is MN908947 (Wuhan-Hu-1).
  • mutation-summary.tsv.xz A summary of the data in aligned.fasta.xz.
  • masked.fasta.xz Masked alignment
  • filtered.fasta.xz The masked alignment excluding data with incomplete / invalid dates, unexpected genome lengths, missing metadata etc. We also maintain a list of sequences to exclude which are removed at this step. These sequences represent duplicates, outliers in terms of divergence or sequences with faulty metadata.

Subsampled datasets

Our GISAID and GenBank (open) profiles each define 7 builds (a Global build and one build per region: Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, North and South America). Each of these is a different subsample of the entire dataset, and each will result in the following intermediates uploaded:

  • {build_name}/sequences.fasta.xz
  • {build_name}/metadata.tsv.xz
  • {build_name}/aligned.fasta.xz
  • {build_name}/{build_name}.json (the main Auspice dataset file)
  • {build_name}/{build_name}_tip-frequencies.json
  • {build_name}/{build_name}_root-sequence.json

Summary of available GenBank (open) files

Each regional build (global, africa, asia, europe, north-america, oceania and south-america) contains a subsampled set of approximately 4000 sequences. They are a good starting point if you are seeking a representative sample of data. Where available, this table also provides the URL for the resulting Auspice visualisation of the data.

Please note that these files are uploaded in two batches (see above for details). This means that the full GenBank metadata and sequences are typically updated a couple of hours before the more processed files.

description type address
Full GenBank data metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/metadata.tsv.gz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/aligned.fasta.xz
  masked s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/masked.fasta.xz
  filtered s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/filtered.fasta.xz
Global sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/aligned.fasta.xz
Africa sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/africa/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/africa/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/africa/aligned.fasta.xz
Asia sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/asia/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/asia/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/asia/aligned.fasta.xz
Europe sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/europe/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/europe/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/europe/aligned.fasta.xz
North America sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/north-america/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/north-america/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/north-america/aligned.fasta.xz
Oceania sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/oceania/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/oceania/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/oceania/aligned.fasta.xz
South America sample metadata s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/south-america/metadata.tsv.xz
  sequences s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/south-america/sequences.fasta.xz
  aligned s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/south-america/aligned.fasta.xz

Starting your build from these intermediates

Each workflow defines one or more inputs in the builds.yaml file.

In the simplest form, an input specifies a local path to some metadata and sequences, like so:

  - name: example-data
    metadata: data/example_metadata.tsv
    sequences: data/example_sequences.fasta

Using the above table, we can easily modify this to create a build which uses the global subsample of GenBank data:

  - name: global-representative-genbank-sample
    metadata: s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/metadata.tsv.gz
    sequences: s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/sequences.fasta.gz

To avoid unnecessarily aligning these sequences, we can instead start from the aligned sequences, like so:

  - name: global-representative-genbank-sample
    metadata: s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/metadata.tsv.gz
    aligned: s3://nextstrain-data/files/ncov/open/global/aligned.fasta.gz

The following starting points are available:

  • replace sequences with aligned (skips alignment 😉)
  • replace sequences with masked (skips alignment and masking steps)
  • replace sequences with filtered (skips alignment, masking and basic filtering steps)

Compressed vs uncompressed starting points

In general, we try to transparently support compressed metadata and sequences for any input stage. Files may be compressed using xz (.xz) or gzip (.gz) compression. The following table summarises the current situation:

  local (uncompressed) local (compressed) remote (uncompressed) remote (compressed)
sequences 1 2
metadata 3
aligned 3
masked 3
filtered 3
  1. Download succeeds but .xz suffix is appended which causes errors downstream in the pipeline.
  2. File is downloaded with a .xz suffix, but gzip compression will still work!
  3. Decompressed during download.