A benchmark of structural variation detection by long reads through a realistic simulated model

Despite the rapid evolution of new sequencing technologies, structural variation detection remains poorly ascertained. The high discrepancy between the results of structural variant analysis programs makes it difficult to assess their performance on real datasets. Accurate simulations of structural variation distributions and sequencing data of the human genome are crucial for the development and benchmarking of new tools.

In order to gain a better insight into the detection of structural variation with long sequencing reads, we created a realistic simulated model to thoroughly compare SV detection methods and the impact of the chosen sequencing technology and sequencing depth. To achieve this, we developed Sim-it, a straightforward tool for the simulation of both structural variation and long-read data. These simulations from Sim-it revealed the strengths and weaknesses for current available structural variation callers and long read sequencing platforms. Our findings were also supported by the latest structural variation benchmark set developed by the GIAB Consortium.

With these findings, we developed a new method (combiSV) that can combine the results from five different SV callers into a superior call set with increased recall and precision. Both Sim-it and combiSV are open source and can be downloaded at https://github.com/ndierckx/.

Authors: Nicolas Dierckxsens, Tong Li, Joris R. Vermeesch, Zhi Xie