MTSv: rapid alignment-based taxonomic classification and high-confidence metagenomic analysis

Tara N. Furstenau, Tsosie Schneider, Isaac Shaffer, Adam J. Vazquez, Jason Sahl, Viacheslav Fofanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As the size of reference sequence databases and high-throughput sequencing datasets continue to grow, it is becoming computationally infeasible to use traditional alignment to large genome databases for taxonomic classification of metagenomic reads. Exact matching approaches can rapidly assign taxonomy and summarize the composition of microbial communities, but they sacrifice accuracy and can lead to false positives. Full alignment tools provide higher confidence assignments and can assign sequences from genomes that diverge from reference sequences; however, full alignment tools are computationally intensive. To address this, we designed MTSv specifically for alignment-based taxonomic assignment in metagenomic analysis. This tool implements an FM-index assisted q-gram filter and SIMD accelerated Smith-Waterman algorithm to find alignments. However, unlike traditional aligners, MTSv will not attempt to make additional alignments to a TaxID once an alignment of sufficient quality has been found. This improves efficiency when many reference sequences are available per taxon. MTSv was designed to be flexible and can be modified to run on either memory or processor constrained systems. Although MTSv cannot compete with the speeds of exact k-mer matching approaches, it is reasonably fast and has higher precision than popular exact matching approaches. Because MTSv performs a full alignment it can classify reads even when the genomes share low similarity with reference sequences and provides a tool for high confidence pathogen detection with low off-target assignments to near neighbor species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14292
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Alignment
  • Metagenomics
  • Pathogen detection
  • Taxonomic classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'MTSv: rapid alignment-based taxonomic classification and high-confidence metagenomic analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this