Publications

Abstract (Expand)

Background A new era of flu surveillance has already started based on the genetic characterization and exploration of influenza virus evolution at whole-genome scale. Although this has been prioritizedd by national and international health authorities, the demanded technological transition to whole-genome sequencing (WGS)-based flu surveillance has been particularly delayed by the lack of bioinformatics infrastructures and/or expertise to deal with primary next-generation sequencing (NGS) data. Results We developed and implemented INSaFLU (“INSide the FLU”), which is the first influenza-oriented bioinformatics free web-based suite that deals with primary NGS data (reads) towards the automatic generation of the output data that are actually the core first-line “genetic requests” for effective and timely influenza laboratory surveillance (e.g., type and sub-type, gene and whole-genome consensus sequences, variants’ annotation, alignments and phylogenetic trees). By handling NGS data collected from any amplicon-based schema, the implemented pipeline enables any laboratory to perform multi-step software intensive analyses in a user-friendly manner without previous advanced training in bioinformatics. INSaFLU gives access to user-restricted sample databases and projects management, being a transparent and flexible tool specifically designed to automatically update project outputs as more samples are uploaded. Data integration is thus cumulative and scalable, fitting the need for a continuous epidemiological surveillance during the flu epidemics. Multiple outputs are provided in nomenclature-stable and standardized formats that can be explored in situ or through multiple compatible downstream applications for fine-tuned data analysis. This platform additionally flags samples as “putative mixed infections” if the population admixture enrolls influenza viruses with clearly distinct genetic backgrounds, and enriches the traditional “consensus-based” influenza genetic characterization with relevant data on influenza sub-population diversification through a depth analysis of intra-patient minor variants. This dual approach is expected to strengthen our ability not only to detect the emergence of antigenic and drug resistance variants but also to decode alternative pathways of influenza evolution and to unveil intricate routes of transmission. Conclusions In summary, INSaFLU supplies public health laboratories and influenza researchers with an open “one size fits all” framework, potentiating the operationalization of a harmonized multi-country WGS-based surveillance for influenza virus.

Authors: Vítor Borges, Miguel Pinheiro, Pedro Pechirra, Raquel Guiomar, João Paulo Gomes

Date Published: 1st Dec 2018

Publication Type: InProceedings

Abstract (Expand)

In the recent years, the improvement of software and hardware performance has made biomolecular simulations a mature tool for the study of biological processes. Simulation length and the size and complexity of the analyzed systems make simulations both complementary and compatible with other bioinformatics disciplines. However, the characteristics of the software packages used for simulation have prevented the adoption of the technologies accepted in other bioinformatics fields like automated deployment systems, workflow orchestration, or the use of software containers. We present here a comprehensive exercise to bring biomolecular simulations to the “bioinformatics way of working”. The exercise has led to the development of the BioExcel Building Blocks (BioBB) library. BioBB’s are built as Python wrappers to provide an interoperable architecture. BioBB’s have been integrated in a chain of usual software management tools to generate data ontologies, documentation, installation packages, software containers and ways of integration with workflow managers, that make them usable in most computational environments.

Authors: Pau Andrio, Adam Hospital, Javier Conejero, Luis Jordá, Marc Del Pino, Laia Codo, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Carole Goble, Daniele Lezzi, Rosa M. Badia, Modesto Orozco, Josep Ll. Gelpi

Date Published: 1st Dec 2019

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

We here introduce the concept of Canonical Workflow Building Blocks (CWBB), a methodology of describing and wrapping computational tools, in order for them to be utilized in a reproducible manner from multiple workflow languages and execution platforms. We argue such practice is a necessary requirement for FAIR Computational Workflows [Goble 2020] to improve widespread adoption and reuse of a computational method across workflow language barriers.

Authors: Stian Soiland-Reyes, Genís Bayarri, Pau Andrio, Robin Long, Douglas Lowe, Ania Niewielska, Adam Hospital

Date Published: 7th Mar 2021

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

A widely used standard for portable multilingual data analysis pipelines would enable considerable benefits to scholarly publication reuse, research/industry collaboration, regulatory cost control, and to the environment. Published research that used multiple computer languages for their analysis pipelines would include a complete and reusable description of that analysis that is runnable on a diverse set of computing environments. Researchers would be able to easier collaborate and reuse these pipelines, adding or exchanging components regardless of programming language used; collaborations with and within the industry would be easier; approval of new medical interventions that rely on such pipelines would be faster. Time will be saved and environmental impact would also be reduced, as these descriptions contain enough information for advanced optimization without user intervention. Workflows are widely used in data analysis pipelines, enabling innovation and decision-making for the modern society. In many domains the analysis components are numerous and written in multiple different computer languages by third parties. However, lacking a standard for reusable and portable multilingual workflows, then reusing published multilingual workflows, collaborating on open problems, and optimizing their execution would be severely hampered. Moreover, only a standard for multilingual data analysis pipelines that was widely used would enable considerable benefits to research-industry collaboration, regulatory cost control, and to preserving the environment. Prior to the start of the CWL project, there was no standard for describing multilingual analysis pipelines in a portable and reusable manner. Even today / currently, although there exist hundreds of single-vendor and other single-source systems that run workflows, none is a general, community-driven, and consensus-built standard. Preprint, submitted to Communications of the ACM (CACM).

Authors: Michael R. Crusoe, Sanne Abeln, Alexandru Iosup, Peter Amstutz, John Chilton, Nebojša Tijanić, Hervé Ménager, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Carole Goble

Date Published: 14th May 2021

Publication Type: Unpublished

Abstract (Expand)

BACKGROUND: Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) long-read sequencing has become a popular platform for microbial researchers due to the accessibility and affordability of its devices. However, easy and automated construction of high-quality bacterial genomes using nanopore reads remains challenging. Here we aimed to create a reproducible end-to-end bacterial genome assembly pipeline using ONT in combination with Illumina sequencing. RESULTS: We evaluated the performance of several popular tools used during genome reconstruction, including base-calling, filtering, assembly, and polishing. We also assessed overall genome accuracy using ONT both natively and with Illumina. All steps were validated using the high-quality complete reference genome for the Escherichia coli sequence type (ST)131 strain EC958. Software chosen at each stage were incorporated into our final pipeline, MicroPIPE. Further validation of MicroPIPE was carried out using 11 additional ST131 E. coli isolates, which demonstrated that complete circularised chromosomes and plasmids could be achieved without manual intervention. Twelve publicly available Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial genomes (with available raw ONT data and matched complete genomes) were also assembled using MicroPIPE. We found that revised basecalling and updated assembly of the majority of these genomes resulted in improved accuracy compared to the current publicly available complete genomes. CONCLUSIONS: MicroPIPE is built in modules using Singularity container images and the bioinformatics workflow manager Nextflow, allowing changes and adjustments to be made in response to future tool development. Overall, MicroPIPE provides an easy-access, end-to-end solution for attaining high-quality bacterial genomes. MicroPIPE is available at https://github.com/BeatsonLab-MicrobialGenomics/micropipe .

Authors: V. Murigneux, L. W. Roberts, B. M. Forde, M. D. Phan, N. T. K. Nhu, A. D. Irwin, P. N. A. Harris, D. L. Paterson, M. A. Schembri, D. M. Whiley, S. A. Beatson

Date Published: 25th Jun 2021

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

Scientific data analyses often combine several computational tools in automated pipelines, or workflows. Thousands of such workflows have been used in the life sciences, though their composition hasmposition has remained a cumbersome manual process due to a lack of standards for annotation, assembly, and implementation. Recent technological advances have returned the long-standing vision of automated workflow composition into focus. This article summarizes a recent Lorentz Center workshop dedicated to automated composition of workflows in the life sciences. We survey previous initiatives to automate the composition process, and discuss the current state of the art and future perspectives. We start by drawing the “big picture” of the scientific workflow development life cycle, before surveying and discussing current methods, technologies and practices for semantic domain modelling, automation in workflow development, and workflow assessment. Finally, we derive a roadmap of individual and community-based actions to work toward the vision of automated workflow development in the forthcoming years. A central outcome of the workshop is a general description of the workflow life cycle in six stages: 1) scientific question or hypothesis, 2) conceptual workflow, 3) abstract workflow, 4) concrete workflow, 5) production workflow, and 6) scientific results. The transitions between stages are facilitated by diverse tools and methods, usually incorporating domain knowledge in some form. Formal semantic domain modelling is hard and often a bottleneck for the application of semantic technologies. However, life science communities have made considerable progress here in recent years and are continuously improving, renewing interest in the application of semantic technologies for workflow exploration, composition and instantiation. Combined with systematic benchmarking with reference data and large-scale deployment of production-stage workflows, such technologies enable a more systematic process of workflow development than we know today. We believe that this can lead to more robust, reusable, and sustainable workflows in the future.

Authors: Anna-Lena Lamprecht, Magnus Palmblad, Jon Ison, Veit Schwämmle, Mohammad Sadnan Al Manir, Ilkay Altintas, Christopher J. O. Baker, Ammar Ben Hadj Amor, Salvador Capella-Gutierrez, Paulos Charonyktakis, Michael R. Crusoe, Yolanda Gil, Carole Goble, Timothy J. Griffin, Paul Groth, Hans Ienasescu, Pratik Jagtap, Matúš Kalaš, Vedran Kasalica, Alireza Khanteymoori, Tobias Kuhn, Hailiang Mei, Hervé Ménager, Steffen Möller, Robin A. Richardson, Vincent Robert, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Robert Stevens, Szoke Szaniszlo, Suzan Verberne, Aswin Verhoeven, Katherine Wolstencroft

Date Published: 2021

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

Computational workflows describe the complex multi-step methods that are used for data collection, data preparation, analytics, predictive modelling, and simulation that lead to new data products. They can inherently contribute to the FAIR data principles: by processing data according to established metadata; by creating metadata themselves during the processing of data; and by tracking and recording data provenance. These properties aid data quality assessment and contribute to secondary data usage. Moreover, workflows are digital objects in their own right. This paper argues that FAIR principles for workflows need to address their specific nature in terms of their composition of executable software steps, their provenance, and their development.

Authors: Carole Goble, Sarah Cohen-Boulakia, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Daniel Garijo, Yolanda Gil, Michael R. Crusoe, Kristian Peters, Daniel Schober

Date Published: 2020

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Carole Goble, Sarah Cohen-Boulakia, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Daniel Garijo, Yolanda Gil, Michael R. Crusoe, Kristian Peters, Daniel Schober

Date Published: 2020

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

This report reviews the current state-of-the-art applied approaches on automated tools, services and workflows for extracting information from images of natural history specimens and their labels. We consider the potential for repurposing existing tools, including workflow management systems; and areas where more development is required. This paper was written as part of the SYNTHESYS+ project for software development teams and informatics teams working on new software-based approaches to improve mass digitisation of natural history specimens.

Authors: Stephanie Walton, Laurence Livermore, Olaf Bánki, Robert W. N. Cubey, Robyn Drinkwater, Markus Englund, Carole Goble, Quentin Groom, Christopher Kermorvant, Isabel Rey, Celia M Santos, Ben Scott, Alan Williams, Zhengzhe Wu

Date Published: 14th Aug 2020

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Anna-Lena Lamprecht, Magnus Palmblad, Jon Ison, Veit Schwämmle, Mohammad Sadnan Al Manir, Ilkay Altintas, Christopher J. O. Baker, Ammar Ben Hadj Amor, Salvador Capella-Gutierrez, Paulos Charonyktakis, Michael R. Crusoe, Yolanda Gil, Carole Goble, Timothy J. Griffin, Paul Groth, Hans Ienasescu, Pratik Jagtap, Matúš Kalaš, Vedran Kasalica, Alireza Khanteymoori, Tobias Kuhn, Hailiang Mei, Hervé Ménager, Steffen Möller, Robin A. Richardson, Vincent Robert, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Robert Stevens, Szoke Szaniszlo, Suzan Verberne, Aswin Verhoeven, Katherine Wolstencroft

Date Published: 2021

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

Workflows have become a core part of computational scientific analysis in recent years. Automated computational workflows multiply the power of researchers, potentially turning “hand-cranked” datadata processing by informaticians into robust factories for complex research output. However, in order for a piece of software to be usable as a workflow-ready tool, it may require alteration from its likely origin as a standalone tool. Research software is often created in response to the need to answer a research question with the minimum expenditure of time and money in resource-constrained projects. The level of quality might range from “it works on my computer” to mature and robust projects with support across multiple operating systems. Despite significant increase in uptake of workflow tools, there is little specific guidance for writing software intended to slot in as a tool within a workflow; or on converting an existing standalone research-quality software tool into a reusable, composable, well-behaved citizen within a larger workflow. In this paper we present 10 simple rules for how a software tool can be prepared for workflow use.

Authors: Paul Brack, Peter Crowther, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Stuart Owen, Douglas Lowe, Alan R. Williams, Quentin Groom, Mathias Dillen, Frederik Coppens, Björn Grüning, Ignacio Eguinoa, Philip Ewels, Carole Goble

Date Published: 24th Mar 2022

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

A key limiting factor in organising and using information from physical specimens curated in natural science collections is making that information computable, with institutional digitization tending to focus more on imaging the specimens themselves than on efficiently capturing computable data about them. Label data are traditionally manually transcribed today with high cost and low throughput, rendering such a task constrained for many collection-holding institutions at current funding levels. We show how computer vision, optical character recognition, handwriting recognition, named entity recognition and language translation technologies can be implemented into canonical workflow component libraries with findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) characteristics. These libraries are being developed in a cloud- based workflow platform—the ‘Specimen Data Refinery’ (SDR)—founded on Galaxy workflow engine, Common Workflow Language, Research Object Crates (RO-Crate) and WorkflowHub technologies. The SDR can be applied to specimens’ labels and other artefacts, offering the prospect of greatly accelerated and more accurate data capture in computable form. Two kinds of FAIR Digital Objects (FDO) are created by packaging outputs of SDR workflows and workflow components as digital objects with metadata, a persistent identifier, and a specific type definition. The first kind of FDO are computable Digital Specimen (DS) objects that can be consumed/produced by workflows, and other applications. A single DS is the input data structure submitted to a workflow that is modified by each workflow component in turn to produce a refined DS at the end. The Specimen Data Refinery provides a library of such components that can be used individually, or in series. To cofunction, each library component describes the fields it requires from the DS and the fields it will in turn populate or enrich. The second kind of FDO, RO-Crates gather and archive the diverse set of digital and real-world resources, configurations, and actions (the provenance) contributing to a unit of research work, allowing that work to be faithfully recorded and reproduced. Here we describe the Specimen Data Refinery with its motivating requirements, focusing on what is essential in the creation of canonical workflow component libraries and its conformance with the requirements of an emerging FDO Core Specification being developed by the FDO Forum.

Authors: Alex Hardisty, Paul Brack, Carole Goble, Laurence Livermore, Ben Scott, Quentin Groom, Stuart Owen, Stian Soiland-Reyes

Date Published: 7th Mar 2022

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

Preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/2110.02168 The landscape of workflow systems for scientific applications is notoriously convoluted with hundreds of seemingly equivalent workflow systems, many isolatedd research claims, and a steep learning curve. To address some of these challenges and lay the groundwork for transforming workflows research and development, the WorkflowsRI and ExaWorks projects partnered to bring the international workflows community together. This paper reports on discussions and findings from two virtual "Workflows Community Summits" (January and April, 2021). The overarching goals of these workshops were to develop a view of the state of the art, identify crucial research challenges in the workflows community, articulate a vision for potential community efforts, and discuss technical approaches for realizing this vision. To this end, participants identified six broad themes: FAIR computational workflows; AI workflows; exascale challenges; APIs, interoperability, reuse, and standards; training and education; and building a workflows community. We summarize discussions and recommendations for each of these themes.

Authors: Rafael Ferreira da Silva, Henri Casanova, Kyle Chard, Ilkay Altintas, Rosa M Badia, Bartosz Balis, Taina Coleman, Frederik Coppens, Frank Di Natale, Bjoern Enders, Thomas Fahringer, Rosa Filgueira, Grigori Fursin, Daniel Garijo, Carole Goble, Dorran Howell, Shantenu Jha, Daniel S. Katz, Daniel Laney, Ulf Leser, Maciej Malawski, Kshitij Mehta, Loic Pottier, Jonathan Ozik, J. Luc Peterson, Lavanya Ramakrishnan, Stian Soiland-Reyes, Douglas Thain, Matthew Wolf

Date Published: 1st Nov 2021

Publication Type: Journal

Abstract (Expand)

MGnify (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/metagenomics) provides a free to use platform for the assembly, analysis and archiving of microbiome data derived from sequencing microbial populations that are present in particular environments. Over the past 2 years, MGnify (formerly EBI Metagenomics) has more than doubled the number of publicly available analysed datasets held within the resource. Recently, an updated approach to data analysis has been unveiled (version 5.0), replacing the previous single pipeline with multiple analysis pipelines that are tailored according to the input data, and that are formally described using the Common Workflow Language, enabling greater provenance, reusability, and reproducibility. MGnify's new analysis pipelines offer additional approaches for taxonomic assertions based on ribosomal internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS1/2) and expanded protein functional annotations. Biochemical pathways and systems predictions have also been added for assembled contigs. MGnify's growing focus on the assembly of metagenomic data has also seen the number of datasets it has assembled and analysed increase six-fold. The non-redundant protein database constructed from the proteins encoded by these assemblies now exceeds 1 billion sequences. Meanwhile, a newly developed contig viewer provides fine-grained visualisation of the assembled contigs and their enriched annotations.

Authors: Alex L Mitchell, Alexandre Almeida, Martin Beracochea, Miguel Boland, Josephine Burgin, Guy Cochrane, Michael R Crusoe, Varsha Kale, Simon C Potter, Lorna J Richardson, Ekaterina Sakharova, Maxim Scheremetjew, Anton Korobeynikov, Alex Shlemov, Olga Kunyavskaya, Alla Lapidus, Robert D Finn

Date Published: 7th Nov 2019

Publication Type: Journal

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