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RepeatModeler2: automated genomic discovery of transposable element families

By Jullien M Flynn, Robert Hubley, Clément Goubert, Jeb Rosen, Andrew G. Clark, Cédric Feschotte, Arian FA Smit

Posted 26 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/856591 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1921046117)

The accelerating pace of genome sequencing throughout the tree of life is driving the need for improved unsupervised annotation of genome components such as transposable elements (TEs). Because the types and sequences of TEs are highly variable across species, automated TE discovery and annotation are challenging and time-consuming tasks. A critical first step is the de novo identification and accurate compilation of sequence models representing all the unique TE families dispersed in the genome. Here we introduce RepeatModeler2, a new pipeline that greatly facilitates this process. This new program brings substantial improvements over the original version of RepeatModeler, one of the most widely used tools for TE discovery. In particular, this version incorporates a module for structural discovery of complete LTR retroelements, which are widespread in eukaryotic genomes but recalcitrant to automated identification because of their size and sequence complexity. We benchmarked RepeatModeler2 on three model species with diverse TE landscapes and high-quality, manually curated TE libraries: Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly), Danio rerio (zebrafish), and Oryza sativa (rice). In these three species, RepeatModeler2 identified approximately three times more consensus sequences matching with >95% sequence identity and sequence coverage to the manually curated sequences than the original RepeatModeler. As expected, the greatest improvement is for LTR retroelements. The program had an extremely low false positive rate when applied to simulated genomes devoid of TEs. Thus, RepeatModeler2 represents a valuable addition to the genome annotation toolkit that will enhance the identification and study of TEs in eukaryotic genome sequences. RepeatModeler2 is available as source code or a containerized package under an open license (https://github.com/Dfam- consortium/RepeatModeler, https://github.com/Dfam-consortium/TETools).

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