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Multiple restez paths

It is not advisable to download the entire GenBank database to your machine. Equally, it is best to limit the size of a database. Databases that are too large will be slow to query and are more likely to cause memory issues. For example, you may actually make a query that demands more memory than is available on your machine. One solution to instead set multiple restez paths on your machine.

You can either set up a path for different domains. Or you could download for a single set of domains and then create a database from the same downloaded files using the alt_restez_path argument.

# a larger database from the same download files in rodents_path
db_create(alt_restez_path = rodents_path, max_length = 2000)

Accession filter

Another way to create smaller (i.e., more efficient) databases is to use the accession filter. This is particularly useful if the organisms you are interested in are only a small subset of a much larger domain. For example, you might be only interested in ferns, but since ferns are part of the plant domain (and the smallest domain including ferns is plants), this means you need to download the entire plant domain (638 GB as of release 251!). While restez cannot download just ferns, it can build a database only including ferns, which should be much more efficient for querying than a database of all plants.

To do this, use ncbi_acc_get() first to obtain a vector of accessions (GenBank IDs). Construct the query as you would when searching on GenBank.

# Specify vector of GenBank accessions:
# all ferns in GenBank between with sequence length between 10 to 200000 bases
fern_accs <- ncbi_acc_get("Polypodiopsida[ORGN] AND 10:200000[SLEN]")

Next, use the vector of accessions as the accession filter (acc_filter) for db_create().

One more tip: use scan to speed up the process of building the database. Particularly in cases where the target sequences (here, ferns) are only a small part of the GenBank domain (here, plants), there are many GenBank files that do not contain any target sequences at all. Setting scan to TRUE will first check if any of the target accessions are present in the file and if not, skip processing that file further. This can significantly save on time but is only available on machines with zgrep installed (typically Mac or Unix, but not Windows).

db_create(acc_filter = fern_accs, scan = TRUE)

Which domain?

The db_download function lists the various possible GenBank domains that can be downloaded. You can work out which GenBank domain a sequence belongs to by its three letter code towards the end of its locus. For example, the top of the record for this sequence indicates it is in the rodent domain.

LOCUS       LT548182                 456 bp    DNA     linear   ROD 23-NOV-2016
DEFINITION  TPA_inf: Cavia porcellus GLNH gene for globin H.
VERSION     LT548182.1

Database performance and behaviour

The restez package database is built with duckdb. If you encounter any errors that include the phrase “Server says”, then an issue is likely to have occurred within the database. Please raise such issues with GitHub. But keep the following factors in mind:

  • Is your request from the database likely to return an object too large for your computer’s RAM? If the size of database is 5GB then it is likely that a request pulling all of the sequence data and information into an R session will be around 5GB as well.
  • Are you building and storing the database on a separate USB drive? It has been noted that database behaviour can be unusual on separate USB drives. When an issue, please provide information about your USB drive’s format, size and USB connections.