Chasing perfection: validation and polishing strategies for telomere-to-telomere genome assemblies

Advances in long-read sequencing technologies and genome assembly methods have enabled the recent completion of the first Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) human genome assembly, which resolves complex segmental duplications and large tandem repeats, including centromeric satellite arrays in a complete hydatidiform mole (CHM13). Though derived from highly accurate sequencing, evaluation revealed that the initial T2T draft assembly had evidence of small errors and structural misassemblies.

To correct these errors, we designed a novel repeat-aware polishing strategy that made accurate assembly corrections in large repeats without overcorrection, ultimately fixing 51% of the existing errors and improving the assembly QV to 73.9. By comparing our results to standard automated polishing tools, we outline common polishing errors and offer practical suggestions for genome projects with limited resources.

We also show how sequencing biases in both PacBio HiFi and Oxford Nanopore Technologies reads cause signature assembly errors that can be corrected with a diverse panel of sequencing technologies

Authors: Ann M. Mc Cartney, Kishwar Shafin, Michael Alonge, Andrey V. Bzikadze, Giulio Formenti, Arkarachai Fungtammasan, Kerstin Howe, Chirag Jain, Sergey Koren, Glennis A. Logsdon, Karen H. Miga, Alla Mikheenko, Benedict Paten, Alaina Shumate, Daniela C. Soto, Ivan Sović, Jonathan MD Wood, Justin M. Zook, Adam M. Phillippy, Arang Rhie