DSK: K-mer Counting with Very Low Memory Usage

DSK: K-mer Counting with Very Low Memory Usage

Minia genome assembly algorithm, which accomplished the unusual feat of assembling human genome in a desktop computer, used a novel k-mer counting method to keep memory usage below 4G limit. It was done, because k-mer counting takes much more RAM than the actual assembly from a reduced set of k-mers.

Their k-mer counting method is now published as a separate paper in Bioinformatics. We wonder, whether the name DSK was chosen to show respect to the French leader.

Most important table from the paper is shown below. DSK with SSD appears to perform as well as Jellyfish, but using only 1/18th as much RAM and 4 threads instead of 8 in Jellyfish. However, DSK allows you to do k-mer counting for arbitrary length, whereas Jellyfish is restricted to 32 mers.


Here is the abstract:

Counting all the k-mers (substrings of length k) in DNA/RNA sequencing reads is the preliminary step of many bioinformatics applications. However, state of the art k-mer counting methods require that a large data structure resides in memory. Such structure typically grows with the number of distinct k-mers to count. We present a new streaming algorithm for k-mer counting, called DSK (disk streaming of k-mers), which only requires a fixed user-defined amount of memory and disk space. This approach realizes a memory, time and disk trade- off. The multi-set of all k-mers present in the reads is partitioned, and partitions are saved to disk. Then, each partition is separately loaded in memory in a temporary hash table. The k-mer counts are returned by traversing each hash table. Low-abundance k-mers are optionally filtered. DSK is the first approach that is able to count all the 27-mers of a human genome dataset using only 4.0 GB of memory and moderate disk space (160 GB), in 17.9 h. DSK can replace a popular k-mer counting software (Jellyfish) on small-memory servers. AVAILABILITY: http://minia.genouest.org/dsk CONTACT: rayan.chikhi @ens-cachan.org.

Written by M. //