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How-to Merge Across Profilers

As stated in the main description of the tools and tutorials, taxpasta does not (directly) support merging across different profilers, as each tool may have its own reference database, taxonomy, and/or abundance metric. This can risk making naïve assumptions and false-positive interpretations, thus taxpasta is designed to help prepare data for cross-profiler analysis without doing so itself. We highly recommend doing this mindfully in an exploratory fashion.

Here we will show you how you can load such standardised profiles into R and Python in a way that allows you to distinguish between the two tools as necessary.


You will need the following packages and libraries.

    c("readr", "dplyr", "purrr", "tibble", "tidyr"),
    dependencies = TRUE

Pandas is already part of the taxpasta installation, so you don't need to install anything further.

Merging Across Profilers

Assuming you had two files in the same directory, motus_dbMOTUs.tsv and kraken2_db2.tsv - both of which are the output from a previous taxpasta merge command - you can load them as follows.

First, create a list of the TSV files.

filelist <- list.files(pattern = "*.tsv")

Next, we use the list to create a table with the file names in one column, load the contents of each file into a nested column, and finally remove the nesting for those contents. If your files were created in wide format (the default for taxpasta), then we also need to pivot the tables to end up with a tidy format. Otherwise, the highlighted lines below won't be necessary1.

filelist |>
    as_tibble_col(column_name = "filename") |>
        file_contents = map(
            filename, ~ read_tsv(.x) |>
                pivot_longer(  # (1)!
                    names_to = "sample",
                    values_to = "count"
                ) |>
                select(taxonomy_id, sample, count)
    ) |>
    unnest(cols = file_contents)
  1. Remove all of the highlighted lines 6-11, as well as the pipe on line 5 if your tables are already in long format.

This will result in a long format table containing four columns: taxonomy_id, sample, count, and filename.

First, we iterate over TSV files in the working directory. Next, we load the table from each file into a pandas dataframe. Assuming that those tables are in wide format, since that is taxpasta's default, we pivot the tables into long format using melt. Otherwise, the highlighted part can be skipped. Then, we assign the filename to a new column as an identifier for which profiler was used. Lastly, we concatenate all tables into one dataframe.

from pathlib import Path

import pandas as pd

tables = []
for filename in Path().glob("*.tsv"):
    df = (
        .melt(  # (1)!

result = pd.concat(tables, ignore_index=True)
  1. Remove the call to the melt method (lines 9-14) if your tables are already in long format.

The result is a long format table with for columns: taxonomy_id, sample, count, and filename.

From here, you can ensure that when you are making comparisons between tools you are taking the tool and database into account via the filename column. Of course, you may add further columns like profiler instead.

  1. R code adapted from Claus Wilke's blog post