Background: Microbial communities that live in and on the human body play a vital role in health and disease. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have enabled the study of microbial communities at unprecedented resolution. However, these advances in data generation have presented novel challenges to researchers attempting to analyze and visualize these data.
Results: To address some of these challenges, we have developed Animalcules, an easy-to-use interactive microbiome analysis toolkit for 16S rRNA sequencing data, shotgun DNA metagenomics data, and RNA-based metatranscriptomics profiling data. This toolkit combines novel and existing analytics, visualization methods, and machine learning models. For example, traditional microbiome analyses such as alpha/beta diversity and differential abundance analysis are enhanced in the toolkit, while new methods such as biomarker identification are introduced. Powerful interactive and dynamic figures generated by Animalcules enable users to understand their data and discover new insights. Animalcules can be used as a standalone command-line R package or users can explore their data with the accompanying interactive R Shiny interface.
Conclusions: We present Animalcules, an R package for interactive microbiome analysis through either an interactive interface facilitated by R Shiny or various command-line functions. It is the first microbiome analysis toolkit that supports the analysis of all 16S rRNA, DNA-based shotgun metagenomics, and RNA-sequencing based metatranscriptomics datasets. Animalcules can be freely downloaded from GitHub at https://github.com/compbiomed/animalcules or installed through Bioconductor (https://www.bioconductor.org/packages/release/bioc/html/animalcules.html).