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.

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 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").

Quick example

Install and initialize

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

pip install --user refgenie
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


Querying available assets from server:
Remote genomes: mouse_chrM2x, rCRSd
Remote assets:
        mouse_chrM2x/   bowtie2_index:default, fasta.chrom_sizes:default, fasta.fai:default, fasta:default
               rCRSd/   bowtie2_index:default, fasta.chrom_sizes:default, fasta.chrom_sizes:test, fasta.fai:default, fasta.fai:test, fasta:default, fasta:test

Next, pull one:

refgenie pull rCRSd/bowtie2_index


'rCRSd/bowtie2_index:default' archive size: 116.8KB
Downloading URL: ... 

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 --fasta mygenome.fa.gz

See further reading on building assets.

Retrieve paths to 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.

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