Running the analysis
This section focuses on how to running the basic example build to give you a chance to practice and get a sense of how things work. The next section covers customizing and configuring your own build.
To run our analyses, we need to:
- Ensure our sequence data and metadata is properly formatted
- Specify which builds you want to generate using a
- Execute the workflow
- [Hopefully you don’t have to] troubleshoot
Step 1. Gather and format your data
If you haven’t done this step yet, check out our data prep guide and come back when you’re ready.
Step 2. Specify which builds to run
In the orientation section, we learned that
- Nextstrain analyses are run using a workflow manager called Snakemake
- A “build” is a bundle of input files, parameters, and commands
- Each build is primarily configured by your
Let’s start with defining a build in
We use the
builds.yaml file to define what geographic areas of the world we want to focus on. Each block in this file will produce a separate output JSON for visualization.
The first block of the provided
./my_profiles/example/builds.yaml file looks like this:
builds: # Focus on King County (location) in Washington State (division) in the USA (country) # with a build name that will produce the following URL fragment on Nextstrain/auspice: # /ncov/north-america/usa/washington/king-county north-america_usa_washington_king-county: # name of the build; this can be anything subsampling_scheme: location # what subsampling method to use (see parameters.yaml) region: North America country: USA division: Washington location: King County # Whatever your lowest geographic area is (here, 'location' since we are doing a county in the USA) # list 'up' from here the geographic area that location is in. # Here, King County is in Washington state, is in USA, is in North America.
Looking at this example, we can see that each build has a:
build_name, which is used for naming output files
subsampling_scheme, which specifies how sequences are selected. Default schemes exist for
division. Custom schemes can be defined.
location: specify geographic attributes of the sample used for subsampling
The rest of the builds defined in this file serve as examples for division-, country- or region-focused analyses. To adapt this for your own analyses:
- open and modify the
builds.yamlfile in this directory to:
- include your geographic area(s) of interest
- remove any builds that are not relevant to your work
- include the path to your own sequences and metadata instead of the example data
- open and modify the
config.yamlfile in this directory such that it references:
- the path to your new custom
builds.yamlinstead of the example builds file
- the path to your new custom
Step 3: Run the workflow
To actually execute the workflow, run:
ncov$ snakemake --profile my_profiles/example -p
--profile tells snakemake where to find your
-p tells snakemake to print each command it runs to help you understand what it’s doing.
If you’d like to run a dryrun, try running with the
-np flag, which will execute a dryrun. This prints out each command, but doesn’t execute it.
Note that the example profile runs the workflow with at most two cores at once, as defined by the
cores parameter in
Snakemake requires you to specify how many cores to use at once.
To define the number of cores to use from the command line, run Snakemake as follows.
ncov$ snakemake --cores 1 --profile my_profiles/example -p
Step 4: Troubleshoot common issues
If you have a question that is not addressed here, please don’t hestitate to ask for help
My country / division does not show up on the map
This is most often a result of the country / division not being present in the file defining the latitude & longitude of each deme. Adding it to that file (and rerunning the Snakemake rules downstream of this) should fix this.
My trait (e.g. division) is grey instead of colored
*A note about locations and colors:*
Unless you want to specifically override the colors generated, it’s usually easier to add information to the default
ncov files, so that you can benefit from all the information already in those files.
My genomes aren’t included in the analysis
There are a few steps where sequences can be removed:
- During the
- Samples that are included in the exclude file are removed
- Samples that fail the current filtering criteria, as defined in the
parameters.yamlfile, are removed. You can modify the snakefile as desired, but currently these are:
- Minimum sequence length of 25kb
- No ambiguity in (sample collection) date
- Samples may be randomly removed during subsampling; see ‘customizing your analysis’ for more info.
- During the
refinestep, where samples that deviate more than 4 interquartile ranges from the root-to-tip vs time are removed
Sequencing and alignment errors
Genome sequencing, bioinformatic processing of the raw data, and alignment of the sequences are all steps were errors can slip in.
Such errors can distort the phylogenetic analysis.
To avoid sequences with known problems to mess up the analysis, we keep a list of problematic sequences in
config/exclude.txt and filter them out.
To facilitate spotting such problematic sequences, we added an additional quality control step that produces the files
These files are the output of
scripts/diagnostics.py and are produced by rule
The first file contains statistics for every sequence in the aligment, sorted by divergence worst highest to lowest.
The second file contains only those sequences with diagnostics exceeding thresholds each with their specific reason for flagging – these are sorted by submission date (newest to oldest).
The third file contains only the names of the flagged sequences and mirrors the format of
These names could be added to
config/exclude.txt for permanent exclusion.
Note, however, that some sequences might look problematic due to alignment issues rather than intrinsic problems with the sequence.
The flagged sequences will be excluded from the current run.
To only run the sequence diagnostic, you can specify any of the three above files as target or run:
snakemake --profile my_profiles/<name> diagnostic
In addition, we provide rules to re-examine the sequences in
snakemake --profile my_profiles/<name> diagnose_excluded
the pipeline will produce
These files are meant to facilitate checking whether sequences in
config/exclude.txt are excluded for valid reasons.