For studies using high-throughput sequencing (HTS) data, simulations can be vital for planning sampling design and testing bioinformatic tools. However, most HTS sequencing tools provide only very simple ways of adding deviations from a reference genome. For HTS studies that focus on patterns of genomic variation among individuals, populations, or species, having a tool that can simulate realistic patterns of molecular evolution and generate HTS data from those simulations would be quite useful.

jackalope simply and efficiently simulates (i) haplotypes from reference genomes and (ii) reads from both Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) platforms. It can either read reference genomes from FASTA files or simulate new ones. Variant haplotypes can be simulated using summary statistics, phylogenies, Variant Call Format (VCF) files, and coalescent simulations—the latter of which can include selection, recombination, and demographic fluctuations. jackalope can simulate single, paired-end, or mate-pair Illumina reads, as well as reads from Pacific Biosciences These simulations include sequencing errors, mapping qualities, multiplexing, and optical/PCR duplicates. All outputs can be written to standard file formats.



Before installing jackalope, you should update the packages Rhtslib and zlibbioc. Since both of these are on Bioconductor, you should update BiocManager, too.

if (!requireNamespace("BiocManager", quietly = TRUE) ||
    "BiocManager" %in% row.names(old.packages())) {
BiocManager::install(c("Rhtslib", "zlibbioc"))

Enabling OpenMP

To use multithreading in jackalope, you’ll need to compile it from source using the proper flags. The first step is to add the following to the .R/Makevars (.R/Makevars.win on Windows) file inside the home directory:

On Linux and Windows, you should be able to get away with simply adding those lines and installing jackalope by running the following in R:

If you’ve enabled OpenMP properly, running jackalope:::using_openmp() in R should return TRUE.

On macOS, it takes a few more steps to get things working. First, make sure the content above is in your ~/.R/Makevars file. Next, go to https://cran.r-project.org/bin/macosx/tools and download the newest versions of (1) the clang compiler (version 8 at the time of writing) and (2) GNU Fortran (version 6.1 at the time of writing). The downloads will have the .pkg extension. Next, install clang and gfortran by opening these .pkg files and following the directions.

After this, add the following to your ~/.R/Makevars file (replacing clang8 with your version of the clang compiler):

Now you should be able to install jackalope by running install.packages("jackalope", type = "source") in R.

For more information, please see https://thecoatlessprofessor.com/programming/openmp-in-r-on-os-x.


Below shows how to simulate a 10kb genome, then create haplotypes from that genome using a phylogenetic tree:

Below simulates 500 million paired-end, 100 bp reads from the haplotypes:

illumina(ref_haplotypes, out_prefix = "illumina", n_reads = 500e6,
         paired = TRUE, read_length = 100)

Below simulates 500 thousand PacBio reads from the reference genome:

pacbio(ref, out_prefix = "pacbio", n_reads = 500e3)