PlasClass improves plasmid sequence classification

David Pellow, Itzik Mizrahi, Ron Shamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Many bacteria contain plasmids, but separating between contigs that originate on the plasmid and those that are part of the bacterial genome can be difficult. This is especially true in metagenomic assembly, which yields many contigs of unknown origin. Existing tools for classifying sequences of plasmid origin give less reliable results for shorter sequences, are trained using a fraction of the known plasmids, and can be difficult to use in practice. We present PlasClass, a new plasmid classifier. It uses a set of standard classifiers trained on the most current set of known plasmid sequences for different sequence lengths. We tested PlasClass sequence classification on held-out data and simulations, as well as publicly available bacterial isolates and plasmidome samples and plasmids assembled from metagenomic samples. PlasClass outperforms the state-of-the-art plasmid classification tool on shorter sequences, which constitute the majority of assembly contigs, allowing it to achieve higher F1 scores in classifying sequences from a wide range of datasets. PlasClass also uses significantly less time and memory. PlasClass can be used to easily classify plasmid and bacterial genome sequences in metagenomic or isolate assemblies. It is available under the MIT license from:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007781
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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