Load GenBank into Chado

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This HOWTO describes how to load GenBank format files into Chado. For a thorough discussion of this topic, including all the files that will allow you to set up a complete test environment see:



  • Install prerequisites: latest versions of Chado and GBrowse
  • Fetch Genbank genome/chromosomes
  • Run genbank2gff3 script from BioPerl (Important: use a version of the script created April 2007 or later)
  • Run gmod_bulk_load_gff3.pl script (from GMOD)
  • View genome(s) with GBrowse (see an example at eugenes.org).

In summary, to load Saccharomyces chromosome X to Chado database 'mychado', from a Unix command-line, do:

 curl ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/genomes/Saccharomyces_cerevisiae/CHR_X/NC_001142.gbk \
 | perl bp_genbank2gff3.pl -noCDS -in stdin -out stdout \
 | perl gmod_bulk_load_gff3.pl -dbname mychado -organism fromdata

Fetch Genbank Genome Files

Genbank genome data is available from NCBI genomes section, ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/genomes, or from a current mirror at ftp://bio-mirror.net/biomirror/ncbigenomes/

 mkdir data; cd data

Fetch from NCBI, or this Indiana mirror

 curl ftp://bio-mirror.net/biomirror/ncbigenomes/
 curl -RO ftp://bio-mirror.net/biomirror/ncbigenomes/Saccharomyces_cerevisiae/CHR_X/NC_001142.gbk.gz

Other sample genomes of interest:

  • Drosophila_melanogaster/CHR_4/NC_004353.gbk.gz
  • Caenorhabditis_elegans/CHR_III/NC_003281.gbk.gz
  • Arabidopsis_thaliana/CHR_IV/NC_003075.gbk.gz
  • M_musculus/CHR_19/mm_ref_chr19.gbk.gz
  • H_sapiens/CHR_19/hs_ref_chr19.gbk.gz

Create GFF3 from the Genbank Files

The BioPerl script bp_genbank2gff3.pl (scripts/Bio-DB-GFF/genbank2gff3.PLS) will convert to GFF3 suited to Chado loading. Important: use a version of the script created April 2007 or later.

The new -noCDS flag is required for this. Use -s flag to summarize features found.

 bp_genbank2gff3.pl -noCDS -s -o . data/NC_001142.gbk.gz

Load GFF3 into Chado

Use the GMOD script gmod_bulk_load_gff3.pl for this. Note that gmod_bulk_load_gff3 will only handle one organism at a time. Chose the best --dbxref per organism (WormBase, SGD, MGI, FLYBASE), depending on contents of GenBank annotations. The 'GeneID' dbxref is standard for most GenBank genomes.

 gmod_bulk_load_gff3.pl  --dbname dev_chado_01c --dbxref GeneID --organism fromdata --gff data/NC_004353.gbk.gz.gff

Check data:

 psql -d dev_chado_01c -c 'select count(f.*), \
  (select common_name from organism where organism_id = f.organism_id) as species \
  from feature f group by f.organism_id;'
 psql -d dev_chado_01c -c 'select count(f.*), \
  (select common_name from organism where organism_id = f.organism_id) as species \
  from feature f where f.seqlen>0 group by f.organism_id;'

Possible Errors

It's possible that you'll run into some errors coming from the input data itself. Some of the errors, and their fixes, are described below.

couldn't open /var/lib/gmod/conf directory for reading:No such file or directory

Make sure the environmental variable GMOD_ROOT is set to where gmod was installed, for example:

 setenv GMOD_ROOT /usr/local/gmod/ # tcsh


 set GMOD_ROOT=/usr/local/gmod/ # bash

Your GFF3 file uses a tag called <term>, but this term is not already in the cvterm and dbxref tables so that its value can be inserted into the featureprop table

Solution: This error message will be followed by SQL statements that insert the term in the correct way - execute them. By the way, one explanation for this error is that the source sequence was curated but not with terms from the Sequence Ontology.

DBD::Pg::db pg_endcopy failed: ERROR: duplicate key violates unique constraint "featureprop_c1"
CONTEXT: COPY featureprop, line ...

Solution: The CONTEXT line above is telling you what the offending data is. This error probably means that there are 2 features sharing the same name or ID and feature type in the GFF3 file. Correct these errors by hand and reload.