To understand the connection between function and structure of microbial communities, it is of great importance to correctly infer which taxa that are present. For this purpose I have been developing software for taxonomic analysis of microbial communities, either from shotgun metagenomic data (Metaxa and Metaxa2), or for barcode regions (Metaxa, Metaxa2 and ITSx). Through this work I have also become involved in the UNITE database for species identification of fungi. Additionally, I have been developing tools for assessing diversity through different means (Megraft and the Metaxa2 diversity tools). I have also been tinkering with ways of visualizing taxonomic abundance data on a large scale (Spotplotter). I intend to continue development of these tools for the foreseeable future.

Open questions of interest

  1. How do we maintain accuracy of taxonomic classification for different taxonomic groups in the large-scale sequencing era?
  2. How can we better use shotgun metagenomic data to assess community structure?
  3. What tools do we need to enable high-quality taxonomic assignment based on non-standard barcoding regions?

Key publications

  • Bengtsson-Palme J, Hartmann M, Eriksson KM, Pal C, Thorell K, Larsson DGJ, Nilsson RH: Metaxa2: Improved identification and taxonomic classification of small and large subunit rRNA in metagenomic data. Molecular Ecology Resources, Early View (2015). doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12399 [Paper link]
  • Bengtsson-Palme J, Ryberg M, Hartmann M, Branco S, Wang Z, Godhe A, De Wit P, Sánchez-García M, Ebersberger I, de Souza F, Amend AS, Jumpponen A, Unterseher M, Kristiansson E, Abarenkov K, Bertrand YJK, Sanli K, Eriksson KM, Vik U, Veldre V, Nilsson RH: Improved software detection and extraction of ITS1 and ITS2 from ribosomal ITS sequences of fungi and other eukaryotes for use in environmental sequencing. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4, 10, 914–919 (2013). doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12073 [Paper link]
  • Bengtsson J, Hartmann M, Unterseher M, Vaishampayan P, Abarenkov K, Durso L, Bik EM, Garey JR, Eriksson KM, Nilsson RH: Megraft: A software package to graft ribosomal small subunit (16S/18S) fragments onto full-length sequences for accurate species richness and sequencing depth analysis in pyrosequencing-length metagenomes. Research in Microbiology, 163, 6–7, 407–412 (2012). doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2012.07.001. [Paper link]
  • Richardson RT, Bengtsson-Palme J, Johnson RM: Evaluating and Optimizing the Performance of Software Commonly Used for the Taxonomic Classification of DNA Sequence Data. Molecular Ecology Resources, 17, 4, 760–769 (2017). doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12628 [Paper link]
  • Kõljalg U, Nilsson RH, Abarenkov K, Tedersoo L, Taylor AFS, Bahram M, Bates ST, Bruns TT, Bengtsson-Palme J, Callaghan TM, Douglas B, Drenkhan T, Eberhardt U, Dueñas M, Grebenc T, Griffith GW, Hartmann M, Kirk PM, Kohout P, Larsson E, Lindahl BD, Lücking R, Martín MP, Matheny PB, Nguyen NH, Niskanen T, Oja J, Peay KG, Peintner U, Peterson M, Põldmaa K, Saag L, Saar I, Schüßler A, Senés C, Smith ME, Suija A, Taylor DE, Telleria MT, Weiß M, Larsson KH: Towards a unified paradigm for sequence-based identification of Fungi. Molecular Ecology, 22, 21, 5271–5277 (2013). doi: 10.1111/mec.12481 [Paper link]
  • Nilsson RH, Tedersoo L, Abarenkov K, Ryberg M, Kristiansson E, Hartmann M, Schoch CL, Nylander JAA, Bergsten J, Porter TM, Jumpponen A, Vaishampayan P, Ovaskainen O, Hallenberg N, Bengtsson-Palme J, Eriksson KM, Larsson K-H, Larsson E, Kõljalg U: Five simple guidelines for establishing basic authenticity and reliability of newly generated fungal ITS sequences. MycoKeys, 4, 37–63 (2012). doi: 10.3897/mycokeys.4.3606 [Paper link]