Sequencing of animal viruses: quality data assurance for NGS bioinformatics

Gianpiero Zamperin, Pierrick Lucas, Irene Cano, David Ryder, Miriam Abbadi, David Stone, Argelia Cuenca, Estelle Vigouroux, Yannick Blanchard, Valentina Panzarin

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Background: Next generation sequencing (NGS) is becoming widely used among diagnostics and research laboratories, and nowadays it is applied to a variety of disciplines, including veterinary virology. The NGS workflow comprises several steps, namely sample processing, library preparation, sequencing and primary/secondary/tertiary bioinformatics (BI) analyses. The latter is constituted by a complex process extremely difficult to standardize, due to the variety of tools and metrics available. Thus, it is of the utmost importance to assess the comparability of results obtained through different methods and in different laboratories. To achieve this goal, we have organized a proficiency test focused on the bioinformatics components for the generation of complete genome sequences of salmonid rhabdoviruses. Methods: Three partners, that performed virus sequencing using different commercial library preparation kits and NGS platforms, gathered together and shared with each other 75 raw datasets which were analyzed separately by the participants to produce a consensus sequence according to their own bioinformatics pipeline. Results were then compared to highlight discrepancies, and a subset of inconsistencies were investigated more in detail. Results: In total, we observed 526 discrepancies, of which 39.5% were located at genome termini, 14.1% at intergenic regions and 46.4% at coding regions. Among these, 10 SNPs and 99 indels caused changes in the protein products. Overall reproducibility was 99.94%. Based on the analysis of a subset of inconsistencies investigated more in-depth, manual curation appeared the most critical step affecting sequence comparability, suggesting that the harmonization of this phase is crucial to obtain comparable results. The analysis of a calibrator sample allowed assessing BI accuracy, being 99.983%. Conclusions: We demonstrated the applicability and the usefulness of BI proficiency testing to assure the quality of NGS data, and recommend a wider implementation of such exercises to guarantee sequence data uniformity among different virology laboratories.
Original languageEnglish
Article number140
JournalVirology Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • NGS
  • Bioinformatics
  • Proficiency testing
  • Virology

Cite this

Zamperin, G., Lucas, P., Cano, I., Ryder, D., Abbadi, M., Stone, D., Cuenca, A., Vigouroux, E., Blanchard, Y., & Panzarin, V. (2019). Sequencing of animal viruses: quality data assurance for NGS bioinformatics. Virology Journal, 16, [140].