13th May 2015
Burrow-Wheeler Aligner (BWA) for pairwise alignment between DNA sequences. BWA is a software package for mapping DNA sequences against a large reference genome, such as the human genome. It consists of three algorithms: BWA-backtrack, BWA-SW and BWA-MEM. The first algorithm is designed for Illumina sequence reads up to 100bp, while the rest two for longer sequences ranged from 70bp to a few megabases. BWA-MEM and BWA-SW share similar features such as the support of long reads and chimeric alignment, but BWA-MEM, which is the latest, is generally recommended as it is faster and more accurate. BWA-MEM also has better performance than BWA-backtrack for 70-100bp Illumina reads.
For all the algorithms, BWA first needs to construct the FM-index for the reference genome (the index command). Alignment algorithms are invoked with different sub-commands: aln/samse/sampe for BWA-backtrack, bwasw for BWA-SW and mem for the BWA-MEM algorithm.