The diversity of microbial insertion sequences, crucial mobile genetic elements in generating diversity in microbial genomes, needs to be better represented in current microbial databases. Identification of these sequences in microbiome communities presents some significant problems that have led to their underrepresentation. Here, we present a bioinformatics pipeline called Palidis that recognizes insertion sequences in metagenomic sequence data rapidly by identifying inverted terminal repeat regions from mixed microbial community genomes. Applying Palidis to 264 human metagenomes identifies 879 unique insertion sequences, with 519 being novel and not previously characterized. Querying this catalogue against a large database of isolate genomes reveals evidence of horizontal gene transfer events across bacterial classes. We will continue to apply this tool more widely, building the Insertion Sequence Catalogue, a valuable resource for researchers wishing to query their microbial genomes for insertion sequences.

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Microbial genomics
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

Carr, V.R, Pissis, S, Mullany, P, Shoaie, S, Gomez-Cabrero, D, & Moyes, D.L. (2023). Palidis: Fast discovery of novel insertion sequences. Microbial genomics, 9(3). doi:10.1099/mgen.0.000917