Multi-scale Adaptive Differential Abundance Analysis in Microbial Compositional Data

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MOTIVATION: Differential abundance analysis is an essential and commonly used tool to characterize the difference between microbial communities. However, identifying differentially abundant microbes remains a challenging problem because the observed microbiome data are inherently compositional, excessive sparse, and distorted by experimental bias. Besides these major challenges, the results of differential abundance analysis also depend largely on the choice of analysis unit, adding another practical complexity to this already complicated problem. RESULTS: In this work, we introduce a new differential abundance test called the MsRDB test, which embeds the sequences into a metric space and integrates a multiscale adaptive strategy for utilizing spatial structure to identify differentially abundant microbes. Compared with existing methods, the MsRDB test can detect differentially abundant microbes at the finest resolution offered by data and provide adequate detection power while being robust to zero counts, compositional effect, and experimental bias in the microbial compositional dataset. Applications to both simulated and real microbial compositional datasets demonstrate the usefulness of the MsRDB test. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: All analyses can be found under

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbtad178
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mathematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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