BWA – a fast light-weighted tool that aligns relatively short sequences to a sequence database

BWA is a fast light-weighted tool that aligns relatively short sequences (queries) to a sequence database (targe), such as the human reference genome. It implements two different algorithms, both based on Burrows-Wheeler Transform (BWT).

The first algorithm is designed for short queries up to ~200bp with low error rate (<3%). It does gapped global alignment w.r.t. queries, supports paired-end reads, and is one of the fastest short read alignment algorithms to date while also visiting suboptimal hits.

The second algorithm, BWA-SW, is designed for long reads with more errors. It performs heuristic Smith-Waterman-like alignment to find high-scoring local hits (and thus chimera). On low-error short queries, BWA-SW is slower and less accurate than the first algorithm, but on long queries, it is better.

BWA is available at – http://bio-bwa.sourceforge.net/bwa.shtml

Li H. and Durbin R. (2009) Fast and accurate short read alignment with Burrows-Wheeler transform. Bioinformatics 25, 1754-60. [abstract]