Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Bioinformatics. 2004 Dec 12;20(18):3363-9. Epub 2004 Jul 15.

Reducing storage requirements for biological sequence comparison.

Author information

  • 1Institute for Physical Science and Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-2431, USA.



Comparison of nucleic acid and protein sequences is a fundamental tool of modern bioinformatics. A dominant method of such string matching is the 'seed-and-extend' approach, in which occurrences of short subsequences called 'seeds' are used to search for potentially longer matches in a large database of sequences. Each such potential match is then checked to see if it extends beyond the seed. To be effective, the seed-and-extend approach needs to catalogue seeds from virtually every substring in the database of search strings. Projects such as mammalian genome assemblies and large-scale protein matching, however, have such large sequence databases that the resulting list of seeds cannot be stored in RAM on a single computer. This significantly slows the matching process.


We present a simple and elegant method in which only a small fraction of seeds, called 'minimizers', needs to be stored. Using minimizers can speed up string-matching computations by a large factor while missing only a small fraction of the matches found using all seeds.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk