[Bioc-devel] VCF Intersection Using readVcf Remarkably Slow

Michael Lawrence lawrence.michael at gene.com
Wed Sep 28 00:23:00 CEST 2016

I think the basic problem is that each range requires a separate query
through tabix. BAM and tabix are designed to be fast for single
queries, like what a genome browser might generate, but not for
querying thousands of regions at once. At least that's the way it
seems to me. The index is only at the block level, because the data
are compressed.  In principle, smarter caching could speed this up,
but that belongs at the samtools level.

To make many queries, it pays to load the data into memory, or a more
efficient on-disk representation (HDF5, GDS, ...), first.


On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 3:00 PM, Dario Strbenac
<dstr7320 at uni.sydney.edu.au> wrote:
> Good day,
> file <- system.file("extdata", "chr22.vcf.gz", package = "VariantAnnotation")
> anotherFile <- system.file("extdata", "hapmap_exome_chr22.vcf.gz", package = "VariantAnnotation")
> aSet <- readVcf(file, "hg19")
> system.time(commonMutations <- readVcf(anotherFile, "hg19", rowRanges(aSet)))
>    user  system elapsed
> 209.120  16.628 226.083
> Reading in the Exome chromosome 22 VCF and intersecting it with the other file in the data directory takes almost 4 minutes.
> However, reading in the whole file is much faster.
>> system.time(anotherSet <- readVcf(anotherFile, "hg19"))
>    user  system elapsed
>   0.376   0.016   0.392
> and doing the intersection manually takes a fraction of a second
>> system.time(fastCommonMutations <- intersect(rowRanges(aSet), rowRanges(anotherSet)))
>    user  system elapsed
>   0.128   0.000   0.129
> This comparison ignores the finer details such as the identities of the alleles, but does it have to be so slow ? My real use case is intersecting dozens of VCF files of cancer samples with the ExAC consortium's VCF file that is 4 GB in size when compressed. I can't imagine how long that would take.
> Can the code of readVcf be optimised ?
> --------------------------------------
> Dario Strbenac
> University of Sydney
> Camperdown NSW 2050
> Australia
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> Bioc-devel at r-project.org mailing list
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