reference genome manager

PEP compatible PyPi

What is refgenie?

Refgenie manages storage, access, and transfer of reference genome resources. It provides command-line and Python interfaces to download pre-built reference genome "assets", like indexes used by bioinformatics tools. It can also build assets for custom genome assemblies. Refgenie provides programmatic access to a standard genome folder structure, so software can swap from one genome to another.

In a hurry? Check out the demo videos that present the most relevant refgenie features in 3 minutes!

What makes refgenie better?

  1. It provides a command-line interface to download individual resources. Think of it as GitHub for reference genomes. You just type refgenie pull hg38/bwa_index.

  2. It's scripted. In case you need resources not on the server, such as for a custom genome, you can build your own: refgenie build custom_genome/bowtie2_index.

  3. It simplifies finding local asset locations. When you need a path to an asset, you can seek it, making your pipelines portable across computing environments: refgenie seek hg38/salmon_index.

  4. It provides remote operation mode, useful for cloud applications. Get a path to an asset file hosted on AWS S3: refgenie seekr hg38/fasta --remote-class s3.

  5. It includes a Python API. For tool developers, you use rgc = refgenconf.RefGenConf("genomes.yaml") to get a Python object with paths to any genome asset, e.g.,"hg38", "kallisto_index").

  6. It strictly determines genomes compatibility. Users refer to genomes with arbitrary aliases, like "hg38", but refgenie uses sequence-derived identifiers to verify genome identity with asset servers.

Quick example


Refgenie is a Python package package, install from PyPi:

pip install --user refgenie

Or conda:

conda install refgenie

And that's it! If you wish to use refgenie in remote mode See further reading on remote mode in refgenie.

If you're connected to the Internet, call a test command, e.g.:

refgenie seekr hg38/fasta

Initialize to use refgenie locally

Refgenie keeps track of what's available using a configuration file initialized by refgenie init:

export REFGENIE='genome_config.yaml'
refgenie init -c $REFGENIE

Download indexes and assets for a remote reference genome

Use refgenie pull to download pre-built assets from a remote server. View available remote assets with listr:

refgenie listr


                        Remote refgenie assets
                 Server URL:
┃ genome              ┃ assets                                       ┃
│ mouse_chrM2x        │ fasta, bwa_index, bowtie2_index              │
│ hg38                │ fasta, bowtie2_index                         │
│ rCRSd               │ fasta, bowtie2_index                         │
│ human_repeats       │ fasta, hisat2_index, bwa_index               │

Next, pull one:

refgenie pull rCRSd/bowtie2_index


Downloading URL:
94e0d21feb576e6af61cd2a798ad30682ef2428bb7eabbb4/bowtie2_index:default ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ 100.0% • 128.0/117.0 KB • 1.8 MB/s • 0:00:00
Download complete: /Users/mstolarczyk/Desktop/testing/refgenie/data/94e0d21feb576e6af61cd2a798ad30682ef2428bb7eabbb4/bowtie2_index/bowtie2_index__default.tgz
Extracting asset tarball: /Users/mstolarczyk/Desktop/testing/refgenie/data/94e0d21feb576e6af61cd2a798ad30682ef2428bb7eabbb4/bowtie2_index/bowtie2_index__default.tgz
Default tag for '94e0d21feb576e6af61cd2a798ad30682ef2428bb7eabbb4/bowtie2_index' set to: default
Created alias directories:
 - /Users/mstolarczyk/Desktop/testing/refgenie/alias/rCRSd/bowtie2_index/default

See further reading on downloading assets.

Build your own indexes and assets for a custom reference genome

Refgenie assets are scripted, so if what you need is not available remotely, you can use build it locally:

refgenie build mygenome/bwa_index

See further reading on building assets.

Retrieve paths to local refgenie-managed assets

Once you've populated your refgenie with a few assets, use seek to retrieve their local file paths:

refgenie seek mm10/bowtie2_index

This will return the path to the particular asset of interest, regardless of your computing environment. This gives you an ultra-portable asset manager! See further reading on retrieving asset paths.

Retrieve paths to remote refgenie-managed assets

Use seekr (short for "seek remote") to retrieve remote seek_key targets:

refgenie seekr mm10/fasta.fai

This will return the path to the particular remote file of interest, here: FASTA index file, which is a part of mm10/fasta asset.

See further reading on using refgenie in remote mode.

If you want to read more about the motivation behind refgenie and the software engineering that makes refgenie work, proceed next to the overview.