The latest research articles published by BMC Bioinformatics
Background: We recently identified two robust ovarian cancer subtypes, defined by the expression of genes involved in angiogenesis, with significant differences in clinical outcome. To identify potential regulatory mechanisms that distinguish the subtypes we applied PANDA, a method that uses an integrative approach to model information flow in gene regulatory networks. Results: We find distinct differences between networks that are active in the angiogenic and non-angiogenic subtypes, largely defined by a set of key transcription factors that, although previously reported to play a role in angiogenesis, are not strongly differentially-expressed between the subtypes. Our network analysis indicates that these factors are involved in the activation (or repression) of different genes in the two subtypes, resulting in differential expression of their network targets. Mechanisms mediating differences between subtypes include a previously unrecognized pro-angiogenic role for increased genome-wide DNA methylation and complex patterns of combinatorial regulation. Conclusions: The models we develop require a shift in our interpretation of the driving factors in biological networks away from the genes themselves and toward their interactions. The observed regulatory changes between subtypes suggest therapeutic interventions that may help in the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Differential co-expression and regulation analyses reveal different mechanisms underlying major depressive disorder and subsyndromal symptomatic depression
Background: Recent depression research has revealed a growing awareness of how to best classify depression into depressive subtypes. Appropriately subtyping depression can lead to identification of subtypes that are more responsive to current pharmacological treatment and aid in separating out depressed patients in which current antidepressants are not particularly effective.Differential co-expression analysis (DCEA) and differential regulation analysis (DRA) were applied to compare the transcriptomic profiles of peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients with two depressive subtypes: major depressive disorder (MDD) and subsyndromal symptomatic depression (SSD). Results: Six differentially regulated genes (DRGs) (FOSL1, SRF, JUN, TFAP4, SOX9, and HLF) and 16 transcription factor-to-target differentially co-expressed gene links or pairs (TF2target DCLs) appear to be the key differential factors in MDD; in contrast, one DRG (PATZ1) and eight TF2target DCLs appear to be the key differential factors in SSD. There was no overlap between the MDD target genes and SSD target genes. Venlafaxine (Efexor™, Effexor™) appears to have a significant effect on the gene expression profile of MDD patients but no significant effect on the gene expression profile of SSD patients. Conclusion: DCEA and DRA revealed no apparent similarities between the differential regulatory processes underlying MDD and SSD. This bioinformatic analysis may provide novel insights that can support future antidepressant R&D efforts.
Background: Comparing and aligning genomes is a key step in analyzing closely related genomes. Despite the development of many genome aligners in the last 15 years, the problem is not yet fully resolved, even when aligning closely related bacterial genomes of the same species. In addition, no procedures are available to assess the quality of genome alignments or to compare genome aligners. Results: We designed an original method for pairwise genome alignment, named YOC, which employs a highly sensitive similarity detection method together with a recent collinear chaining strategy that allows overlaps. YOC improves the reliability of collinear genome alignments, while preserving or even improving sensitivity. We also propose an original qualitative evaluation criterion for measuring the relevance of genome alignments. We used this criterion to compare and benchmark YOC with five recent genome aligners on large bacterial genome datasets, and showed it is suitable for identifying the specificities and the potential flaws of their underlying strategies. Conclusions: The YOC prototype is available at https://github.com/ruricaru/YOC. It has several advantages over existing genome aligners: (1) it is based on a simplified two phase alignment strategy, (2) it is easy to parameterize, (3) it produces reliable genome alignments, which are easier to analyze and to use.
OpenMS-Simulator: an open-source software for theoretical tandem mass spectrum prediction
Background: Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) acts as a key technique for peptide identification. The MS/MS-based peptide identification approaches can be categorized into two families, namely, de novo and database search. Both of the two types of approaches can benefit from an accurate prediction of theoretical spectrum. A theoretical spectrum consists of m/z and intensity of possibly occurring ions, which are estimated via simulating the spectrum generating process. Extensive researches have been conducted for theoretical spectrum prediction; however, the prediction methods suffer from low prediciton accuracy due to oversimplifications in the spectrum simulation process. Results: In the study, we present an open-source software package, called OpenMS-Simulator, to predict theoretical spectrum for a given peptide sequence. Based on the mobile-proton hypothesis for peptide fragmentation, OpenMS-Simulator trained a closed-form model for the intensity ratio of adjacent y ions, from which the whole theoretical spectrum can be constructed. On a collection of representative spectra datasets with annotated peptide sequences, experimental results suggest that OpenMS-Simulator can predict theoretical spectra with considerable accuracy. The study also presents an application of OpenMS-Simulator: the similarity between theoretical spectra and query spectra can be used to re-rank the peptide sequence reported by SEQUEST/X!Tandem. Conclusions: OpenMS-Simulator implements a novel model to predict theoretical spectrum for a given peptide sequence. Compared with existing theoretical spectrum prediction tools, say MassAnalyzer and MSSimulator, our method not only simplifies the computation process, but also improves the prediction accuracy.Currently, OpenMS-Simulator supports the prediction of CID and HCD spectrum for peptides with double charges. The extension to cover more fragmentation models and support multiple-charged peptides remains as one of the future works.
Efficient representation of uncertainty in multiple sequence alignments using directed acyclic graphs
Background: A standard procedure in many areas of bioinformatics is to use a single multiple sequence alignment (MSA) as the basis for various types of analysis. However, downstream results may be highly sensitive to the alignment used, and neglecting the uncertainty in the alignment can lead to significant bias in the resulting inference. In recent years, a number of approaches have been developed for probabilistic sampling of alignments, rather than simply generating a single optimum. However, this type of probabilistic information is currently not widely used in the context of downstream inference, since most existing algorithms are set up to make use of a single alignment. Results: In this work we present a framework for representing a set of sampled alignments as a directed acyclic graph (DAG) whose nodes are alignment columns; each path through this DAG then represents a valid alignment. Since the probabilities of individual columns can be estimated from empirical frequencies, this approach enables sample-based estimation of posterior alignment probabilities. Moreover, due to conditional independencies between columns, the graph structure encodes a much larger set of alignments than the original set of sampled MSAs, such that the effective sample size is greatly increased. Conclusions: The alignment DAG provides a natural way to represent a distribution in the space of MSAs, and allows for existing algorithms to be efficiently scaled up to operate on large sets of alignments. As an example, we show how this can be used to compute marginal probabilities for tree topologies, averaging over a very large number of MSAs. This framework can also be used to generate a statistically meaningful summary alignment; example applications show that this summary alignment is consistently more accurate than the majority of the alignment samples, leading to improvements in downstream tree inference.Implementations of the methods described in this article are available at http://statalign.github.io/WeaveAlign.
Background: Relation extraction is a fundamental technology in biomedical text mining. Most of the previous studies on relation extraction from biomedical literature have focused on specific or predefined types of relations, which inherently limits the types of the extracted relations. With the aim of fully leveraging the knowledge described in the literature, we address much broader types of semantic relations using a single extraction framework. Results: Our system, which we name PASMED, extracts diverse types of binary relations from biomedical literature using deep syntactic patterns. Our experimental results demonstrate that it achieves a level of recall considerably higher than the state of the art, while maintaining reasonable precision. We have then applied PASMED to the whole MEDLINE corpus and extracted more than 137 million semantic relations. The extracted relations provide a quantitative understanding of what kinds of semantic relations are actually described in MEDLINE and can be ultimately extracted by (possibly type-specific) relation extraction systems. Conclusion: PASMED extracts a large number of relations that have previously been missed by existing text mining systems. The entire collection of the relations extracted from MEDLINE is publicly available in machine-readable form, so that it can serve as a potential knowledge base for high-level text-mining applications.
Background: Minimum dominating sets (MDSet) of protein interaction networks allow the control of underlying protein interaction networks through their topological placement. While essential proteins are enriched in MDSets, we hypothesize that the statistical properties of biological functions of essential genes are enhanced when we focus on essential MDSet proteins (e-MDSet). Results: Here, we determined minimum dominating sets of proteins (MDSet) in interaction networks of E. coli, S. cerevisiae and H. sapiens, defined as subsets of proteins whereby each remaining protein can be reached by a single interaction. We compared several topological and functional parameters of essential, MDSet, and essential MDSet (e-MDSet) proteins. In particular, we observed that their topological placement allowed e-MDSet proteins to provide a positive correlation between degree and lethality, connect more protein complexes, and have a stronger impact on network resilience than essential proteins alone. In comparison to essential proteins we further found that interactions between e-MDSet proteins appeared more frequently within complexes, while interactions of e-MDSet proteins between complexes were depleted. Finally, these e-MDSet proteins classified into functional groupings that play a central role in survival and adaptability. Conclusions: The determination of e-MDSet of an organism highlights a set of proteins that enhances the enrichment signals of biological functions of essential proteins. As a consequence, we surmise that e-MDSets may provide a new method of evaluating the core proteins of an organism.
A strategy to build and validate a prognostic biomarker model based on RT-qPCR gene expression and clinical covariates
Background: Construction and validation of a prognostic model for survival data in the clinical domain is still an active field of research. Nevertheless there is no consensus on how to develop routine prognostic tests based on a combination of RT-qPCR biomarkers and clinical or demographic variables. In particular, the estimation of the model performance requires to properly account for the RT-qPCR experimental design. Results: We present a strategy to build, select, and validate a prognostic model for survival data based on a combination of RT-qPCR biomarkers and clinical or demographic data and we provide an illustration on a real clinical dataset. First, we compare two cross-validation schemes: a classical outcome-stratified cross-validation scheme and an alternative one that accounts for the RT-qPCR plate design, especially when samples are processed by batches. The latter is intended to limit the performance discrepancies, also called the validation surprise, between the training and the test sets. Second, strategies for model building (covariate selection, functional relationship modeling, and statistical model) as well as performance indicators estimation are presented. Since in practice several prognostic models can exhibit similar performances, complementary criteria for model selection are discussed: the stability of the selected variables, the model optimism, and the impact of the omitted variables on the model performance. Conclusion: On the training dataset, appropriate resampling methods are expected to prevent from any upward biases due to unaccounted technical and biological variability that may arise from the experimental and intrinsic design of the RT-qPCR assay. Moreover, the stability of the selected variables, the model optimism, and the impact of the omitted variables on the model performances are pivotal indicators to select the optimal model to be validated on the test dataset.
Background: Utilizing kinetic models of biological systems commonly require computational approaches to estimate parameters, posing a variety of challenges due to their highly non-linear and dynamic nature, which is further complicated by the issue of non-identifiability. We propose a novel parameter estimation framework by combining approaches for solving identifiability with a recently introduced filtering technique that can uniquely estimate parameters where conventional methods fail. This framework first conducts a thorough analysis to identify and classify the non-identifiable parameters and provides a guideline for solving them. If no feasible solution can be found, the framework instead initializes the filtering technique with informed prior to yield a unique solution. Results: This framework has been applied to uniquely estimate parameter values for the sucrose accumulation model in sugarcane culm tissue and a gene regulatory network. In the first experiment the results show the progression of improvement in reliable and unique parameter estimation through the use of each tool to reduce and remove non-identifiability. The latter experiment illustrates the common situation where no further measurement data is available to solve the non-identifiability. These results show the successful application of the informed prior as well as the ease with which parallel data sources may be utilized without increasing the model complexity. Conclusion: The proposed unified framework is distinct from other approaches by providing a robust and complete solution which yields reliable and unique parameter estimation even in the face of non-identifiability.
Understanding the molecular basis of EGFR kinase domain/MIG-6 peptide recognition complex using computational analyses
Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling plays a major role in biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. Since the over-expression of EGFR causes human cancers, EGFR is an attractive drug target. A tumor suppressor endogenous protein, MIG-6, is known to suppress EGFR over-expression by binding to the C-lobe of EGFR kinase. Thus, this C-lobe of the EGFR kinase is a potential new target for EGFR kinase activity inhibition. In this study, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and binding free energy calculations were used to investigate the protein-peptide interactions between EGFR kinase and a 27-residue peptide derived from MIG-6_s1 segment (residues 336–362). Results: These 27 residues of MIG-6_s1 were modeled from the published MIG-6 X-ray structure. The binding dynamics were detailed by applying the molecular mechanics Poisson-Boltzmann surface area (MM-PBSA) method to predict the binding free energy. Both van der Waals interactions and non-polar solvation were favorable driving forces for binding process. Six residues of EGFR kinase and eight residues of MIG-6_s1 residues were shown to be responsible for interface binding in which we investigated per residue free energy decomposition and the results from the computational alanine scanning approach. These residues also had higher hydrogen bond occupancies than other residues at the binding interface. The results from the aforementioned calculations reasonably agreed with the previous experimental mutagenesis studies. Conclusions: Molecular dynamics simulations were used to investigate the interactions of MIG-6_s1 to EGFR kinase domain. Our study provides an insight into such interactions that is useful in guiding the design of novel anticancer therapeutics. The information on our modelled peptide interface with EGFR kinase could be a possible candidate for an EGFR dimerization inhibitor.
Background: Extensive studies have been carried out on Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to elucidate mechanisms of aging and the effects of perturbing known aging-related genes on lifespan and behavior. This research has generated large amounts of experimental data that is increasingly difficult to integrate and analyze with existing databases and domain knowledge. To address this challenge, we demonstrate a scalable and effective approach for automatic evidence gathering and evaluation that leverages existing experimental data and literature-curated facts to identify genes involved in aging and lifespan regulation in C. elegans. Results: We developed a semantic knowledge base for aging by integrating data about C. elegans genes from WormBase with data about 2005 human and model organism genes from GenAge and 149 genes from GenDR, and with the Bio2RDF network of linked data for the life sciences. Using HyQue (a Semantic Web tool for hypothesis-based querying and evaluation) to interrogate this knowledge base, we examined 48,231 C. elegans genes for their role in modulating lifespan and aging. HyQue identified 24 novel but well-supported candidate aging-related genes for further experimental validation. Conclusions: We use semantic technologies to discover candidate aging genes whose effects on lifespan are not yet well understood. Our customized HyQue system, the aging research knowledge base it operates over, and HyQue evaluations of all C. elegans genes are freely available at http://hyque.semanticscience.org.
Effective alignment of RNA pseudoknot structures using partition function posterior log-odds scores
Background: RNA pseudoknots play important roles in many biological processes. Previous methods for comparative pseudoknot analysis mainly focus on simultaneous folding and alignment of RNA sequences. Little work has been done to align two known RNA secondary structures with pseudoknots taking into account both sequence and structure information of the two RNAs. Results: In this article we present a novel method for aligning two known RNA secondary structures with pseudoknots. We adopt the partition function methodology to calculate the posterior log-odds scores of the alignments between bases or base pairs of the two RNAs with a dynamic programming algorithm. The posterior log-odds scores are then used to calculate the expected accuracy of an alignment between the RNAs. The goal is to find an optimal alignment with the maximum expected accuracy. We present a heuristic to achieve this goal. The performance of our method is investigated and compared with existing tools for RNA structure alignment. An extension of the method to multiple alignment of pseudoknot structures is also discussed. Conclusions: The method described here has been implemented in a tool named RKalign, which is freely accessible on the Internet. As more and more pseudoknots are revealed, collected and stored in public databases, we anticipate a tool like RKalign will play a significant role in data comparison, annotation, analysis, and retrieval in these databases.
Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes have a distinct geographical distribution and influence disease progression and treatment outcomes. The purpose of this study was to investigate the distribution of HBV genotypes in Europe, the impact of mutation of different genotypes on HBV gene abnormalities, the features of CpG islands in each genotype and their potential role in epigenetic regulation. Results: Of 383 HBV isolates from European patients, HBV genotypes A-G were identified, with the most frequent being genotype D (51.96%) in 12 countries, followed by A (39.16%) in 7 countries, and then E (3.66%), G (2.87%), B (1.57%), F (0.52%) and C (0.26%). A higher rate of mutant isolates were identified in those with genotype D (46.7%) followed by G (45.5%), and mutations were associated with structural and functional abnormalities of HBV genes. Conventional CpG island I was observed in genotypes A, B, C, D and E. Conventional islands II and III were detected in all A-G genotypes. A novel CpG island IV was found in genotypes A, D and E, and island V was only observed in genotype F. The A-G genotypes lacked the novel CpG island VI. “Split” CpG island I in genotypes D and E and “split” island II in genotypes A, D, E, F and G were observed. Two mutant isolates from genotype D and one from E were found to lack both CpG islands I and III. Conclusions: HBV genotypes A-G were identified in European patients. Structural and functional abnormalities of HBV genes were caused by mutations leading to the association of genotypes D and G with increased severity of liver disease. The distribution, length and genetic traits of CpG islands were different between genotypes and their biological and clinical significances warrant further study, which will help us better understand the potential role of CpG islands in epigenetic regulation of the HBV genome.
BACA: bubble chArt to compare annotations
Background: DAVID is the most popular tool for interpreting large lists of gene/proteins classically produced in high-throughput experiments. However, the use of DAVID website becomes difficult when analyzing multiple gene lists, for it does not provide an adequate visualization tool to show/compare multiple enrichment results in a concise and informative manner.ResultWe implemented a new R-based graphical tool, BACA (Bubble chArt to Compare Annotations), which uses the DAVID web service for cross-comparing enrichment analysis results derived from multiple large gene lists. BACA is implemented in R and is freely available at the CRAN repository (http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/BACA/). Conclusion: The package BACA allows R users to combine multiple annotation charts into one output graph by passing DAVID website.
Background: Binning environmental shotgun reads is one of the most fundamental tasks in metagenomic studies, in which mixed reads from different species or operational taxonomical units (OTUs) are separated into different groups. While dozens of binning methods are available, there is still room for improvement. Results: We developed a novel taxonomy-independent approach called MBBC (Metagenomic Binning Based on Clustering) to cluster environmental shotgun reads, by considering k-mer frequency in reads and Markov properties of the inferred OTUs. Tested on twelve simulated datasets, MBBC reliably estimated the species number, the genome size, and the relative abundance of each species, independent of whether there are errors in reads. Tested on multiple experimental datasets, MBBC outperformed two state-of-the-art taxonomy-independent methods, in terms of the accuracy of the estimated species number, genome sizes, and percentages of correctly assigned reads, among other metrics. Conclusions: We have developed a novel method for binning metagenomic reads based on clustering. This method is demonstrated to reliably predict species numbers, genome sizes, relative species abundances, and k-mer coverage in simple datasets. Our method also has a high accuracy in read binning. The MBBC software is freely available at http://eecs.ucf.edu/~xiaoman/MBBC/MBBC.html.
Data-intensive analysis of HIV mutations
Background: In this study, clustering was performed using a bitmap representation of HIV reverse transcriptase and protease sequences, to produce an unsupervised classification of HIV sequences. The classification will aid our understanding of the interactions between mutations and drug resistance. 10,229 HIV genomic sequences from the protease and reverse transcriptase regions of the pol gene and antiretroviral resistant related mutations represented in an 82-dimensional binary vector space were analyzed. Results: A new cluster representation was proposed using an image inspired by microarray data, such that the rows in the image represented the protein sequences from the genotype data and the columns represented presence or absence of mutations in each protein position.The visualization of the clusters showed that some mutations frequently occur together and are probably related to an epistatic phenomenon. Conclusion: We described a methodology based on the application of a pattern recognition algorithm using binary data to suggest clusters of mutations that can easily be discriminated by cluster viewing schemes.
Evaluation and improvements of clustering algorithms for detecting remote homologous protein families
Background: An important problem in computational biology is the automatic detection of protein families (groups of homologous sequences). Clustering sequences into families is at the heart of most comparative studies dealing with protein evolution, structure, and function. Many methods have been developed for this task, and they perform reasonably well (over 0.88 of F-measure) when grouping proteins with high sequence identity. However, for highly diverged proteins the performance of these methods can be much lower, mainly because a common evolutionary origin is not deduced directly from sequence similarity. To the best of our knowledge, a systematic evaluation of clustering methods over distant homologous proteins is still lacking. Results: We performed a comparative assessment of four clustering algorithms: Markov Clustering (MCL), Transitive Clustering (TransClust), Spectral Clustering of Protein Sequences (SCPS), and High-Fidelity clustering of protein sequences (HiFix), considering several datasets with different levels of sequence similarity. Two types of similarity measures, required by the clustering sequence methods, were used to evaluate the performance of the algorithms: the standard measure obtained from sequence–sequence comparisons, and a novel measure based on profile-profile comparisons, used here for the first time. Conclusions: The results reveal low clustering performance for the highly divergent datasets when the standard measure was used. However, the novel measure based on profile-profile comparisons substantially improved the performance of the four methods, especially when very low sequence identity datasets were evaluated. We also performed a parameter optimization step to determine the best configuration for each clustering method. We found that TransClust clearly outperformed the other methods for most datasets. This work also provides guidelines for the practical application of clustering sequence methods aimed at detecting accurately groups of related protein sequences.
Background: Structural comparison of protein-protein interfaces provides valuable insights into the functional relationship between proteins, which may not solely arise from shared evolutionary origin. A few methods that exist for such comparative studies have focused on structural models determined at atomic resolution, and may miss out interesting patterns present in large macromolecular complexes that are typically solved by low-resolution techniques. Results: We developed a coarse-grained method, PCalign, to quantitatively evaluate physicochemical similarities between a given pair of protein-protein interfaces. This method uses an order-independent algorithm, geometric hashing, to superimpose the backbone atoms of a given pair of interfaces, and provides a normalized scoring function, PC-score, to account for the extent of overlap in terms of both geometric and chemical characteristics. We demonstrate that PCalign outperforms existing methods, and additionally facilitates comparative studies across models of different resolutions, which are not accommodated by existing methods. Furthermore, we illustrate potential application of our method to recognize interesting biological relationships masked by apparent lack of structural similarity. Conclusions: PCalign is a useful method in recognizing shared chemical and spatial patterns among protein-protein interfaces. It outperforms existing methods for high-quality data, and additionally facilitates comparison across structural models with different levels of details with proven robustness against noise.
Sensitive and highly resolved identification of RNA-protein interaction sites in PAR-CLIP data
Background: PAR-CLIP is a recently developed Next Generation Sequencing-based method enabling transcriptome-wide identification of interaction sites between RNA and RNA-binding proteins. The PAR-CLIP procedure induces specific base transitions that originate from sites of RNA-protein interactions and can therefore guide the identification of binding sites. However, additional sources of transitions, such as cell type-specific SNPs and sequencing errors, challenge the inference of binding sites and suitable statistical approaches are crucial to control false discovery rates. In addition, a highly resolved delineation of binding sites followed by an extensive downstream analysis is necessary for a comprehensive characterization of the protein binding preferences and the subsequent design of validation experiments. Results: We present a statistical and computational framework for PAR-CLIP data analysis. We developed a sensitive transition-centered algorithm specifically designed to resolve protein binding sites at high resolution in PAR-CLIP data. Our method employes a Bayesian network approach to associate posterior log-odds with the observed transitions, providing an overall quantification of the confidence in RNA-protein interaction. We use published PAR-CLIP data to demonstrate the advantages of our approach, which compares favorably with alternative algorithms. Lastly, by integrating RNA-Seq data we compute conservative experimentally-based false discovery rates of our method and demonstrate the high precision of our strategy. Conclusions: Our method is implemented in the R package wavClusteR 2.0. The package is distributed under the GPL-2 license and is available from BioConductor at http://www.bioconductor.org/packages/devel/bioc/html/wavClusteR.html.
A systematic evaluation of high-dimensional, ensemble-based regression for exploring large model spaces in microbiome analyses
Background: Microbiome studies incorporate next-generation sequencing to obtain profiles of microbial communities. Data generated from these experiments are high-dimensional with a rich correlation structure but modest sample sizes. A statistical model that utilizes these microbiome profiles to explain a clinical or biological endpoint needs to tackle high-dimensionality resulting from the very large space of variable configurations. Ensemble models are a class of approaches that can address high-dimensionality by aggregating information across large model spaces. Although such models are popular in fields as diverse as economics and genetics, their performance on microbiome data has been largely unexplored. Results: We developed a simulation framework that accurately captures the constraints of experimental microbiome data. Using this setup, we systematically evaluated a selection of both frequentist and Bayesian regression modeling ensembles. These are represented by variants of stability selection in conjunction with elastic net and spike-and-slab Bayesian model averaging (BMA), respectively. BMA ensembles that explore a larger space of models relative to stability selection variants performed better and had lower variability across simulations. However, stability selection ensembles were able to match the performance of BMA in scenarios of low sparsity where several variables had large regression coefficients. Conclusions: Given a microbiome dataset of interest, we present a methodology to generate simulated data that closely mimics its characteristics in a manner that enables meaningful evaluation of analytical strategies. Our evaluation demonstrates that the largest ensembles yield the strongest performance on microbiome data with modest sample sizes and high-dimensional measurements. We also demonstrate the ability of these ensembles to identify microbiome signatures that are associated with opportunistic Candida albicans colonization during antibiotic exposure. As the focus of microbiome research evolves from pilot to translational studies, we anticipate that our strategy will aid investigators in making evaluation-based decisions for selecting appropriate analytical methods.