VITCOMIC: visualization tool for taxonomic compositions of microbial communities based on 16S rRNA gene sequences
BACKGROUND:Understanding the community structure of microbes is typically accomplished by sequencing 16S ribosomal RNA (16S rRNA) genes. These community data can be represented by constructing a phylogenetic tree and comparing it with other samples using statistical methods. However, owing to high computational complexity, these methods are insufficient to effectively analyze the millions of sequences produced by new sequencing technologies such as pyrosequencing.RESULTS:We introduce a web tool named VITCOMIC (VIsualization tool for Taxonomic COmpositions of MIcrobial Community) that can analyze millions of bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences and calculate the overall taxonomic composition for a microbial community. The 16S rRNA gene sequences of genome-sequenced strains are used as references to identify the nearest relative of each sample sequence. With this information, VITCOMIC plots all sequences in a single figure and indicates relative evolutionary distances.CONCLUSIONS:VITCOMIC yields a clear representation of the overall taxonomic composition of each sample and facilitates an intuitive understanding of differences in community structure between samples. VITCOMIC is freely available at http://mg.bio.titech.ac.jp/vitcomic/ webcite.