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Old 12-13-2011, 07:32 AM   #1
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Default Apparent duplication levels incongruence between bismark and fastqc with BS-Seq data

Hi all,

I am working with a BS-Seq dataset and I came across this result that puzzles me a bit.

I ran fastqc on the fastq files first and I got a estimated duplication level of 36.83% (fastqc plot attached)

Afterwards, I mapped the data using Bismark: Here's the mapping report:

Number of paired-end alignments with a unique best hit: 165375035
Mapping efficiency: 71.3%
Sequences with no alignments under any condition: 52756927
Sequences did not map uniquely: 13328411

The number of sequences that did not map uniquely is less than 10% the number of mapped sequences

So I can only think of two possibilities here:

1- Our dataset really contains a high level of polyclonality (therefore we'll have to worry about it and improve the protocol we use to prepare the BS-Seq library). This would imply that >20% of the duplicate reads are not mapped at all explaining the difference in duplication levels between fastqc and bismark. Have any bismark users come across something like this before?

2- Could it be that there is something about the way fastqc estimates the duplicate levels that artificially boosts the numbers of duplicates in our dataset? I'm not really sure about this because I used fastqc in the past and it always seemed to work really well but I wonder if there is something about bisulfite converted reads that could cause this behaviour

Thanks a lot in andvance for your answers!
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:37 AM   #2
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Something more about this. Going through the SEQanswers post related to fastqc I've found a link to this page:

where Simon Andrews mentions that fastqc only uses the first 50bp of each sequence to search for duplicates. I guess that since the reads in my dataset are 100bp long they duplication levels can be boosted by only considering the first 50bp when looking for identical reads. So now I'm thinking that the correct answer is the 2nd possibility
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:43 AM   #3
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Hi gcarbajosa,

As you mentioned, FastQC determines an approximate level of sequence duplication by storing the first 50bp of the first 200,000 different sequences it encounters in a sequencing file. These duplicated sequences may for example be be adapter contamination (which would not map at all in Bismark), but could also be duplicate reads that were amplified by PCR during the library construction. These reads might align perfectly well and uniquely to the genome even though they might be technical duplicates.

So essentially the number of reads mapping non-uniquely (which are being discarded) and duplicated reads is not the same thing, and Bismark does not specifically output anything regarding duplication levels. I hope this helps?
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