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Repository ncbi_blast_plus
Owner: devteam
Synopsis: NCBI BLAST+
The NCBI BLAST+ tools find regions of similarity between biological sequences.
The programs compare nucleotide or protein sequences to sequence databases and
calculate the statistical significance.
Type: unrestricted
Revision: 29:5edc472ec434
This revision can be installed: True
Times cloned / installed: 10530

Repository README files - may contain important installation or license information

Galaxy wrappers for NCBI BLAST+ suite

These wrappers are copyright 2010-2018 by Peter Cock (James Hutton Institute, UK) and additional contributors including Edward Kirton, John Chilton, Nicola Soranzo, Jim Johnson, Bjoern Gruening, Caleb Easterly, Anton Nekrutenko and Anthony Bretaudeau. See the licence text below.

Note this does not work with the NCBI 'legacy' BLAST suite written in C (e.g. binary name blastall), but its replacement BLAST, which is written in C++ (e.g. binary name blastn).

Note that these wrappers (and the associated datatypes) were originally distributed as part of the main Galaxy repository, but as of August 2012 moved to the Galaxy Tool Shed as ncbi_blast_plus (and blast_datatypes). My thanks to Dannon Baker from the Galaxy development team for his assistance with this.

These wrappers are available from the Galaxy Tool Shed at:

In-development test releases are available from the Test Tool Shed at:


Please cite the following paper:

NCBI BLAST+ integrated into Galaxy. P.J.A. Cock, J.M. Chilton, B. Gruening, J.E. Johnson, N. Soranzo GigaScience, 2015, 4:39

You should also cite the NCBI BLAST+ tools:

BLAST+: architecture and applications. C. Camacho et al. BMC Bioinformatics 2009, 10:421.

Automated Installation

Galaxy should be able to automatically install the dependencies, i.e. the BLAST+ binaries and the blast_datatypes repository which defines the BLAST XML file format (blastxml), protein and nucleotide BLAST databases (blastdbp and blastdbn), and so on.

See the configuration notes below.

Manual Installation

For those not using Galaxy's automated installation from the Tool Shed, put the XML and Python files in the tools/ncbi_blast_plus/ folder and add the XML files to your tool_conf.xml as normal. For example, use:

<section name="NCBI BLAST+" id="ncbi_blast_plus_tools">
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_blastn_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_blastp_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_blastx_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_tblastn_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_tblastx_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_makeblastdb.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_dustmasker_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_blastdbcmd_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_blastdbcmd_info.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_rpsblast_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_rpstblastn_wrapper.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/ncbi_makeprofiledb.xml" />
  <tool file="ncbi_blast_plus/blastxml_to_tabular.xml" />

You will also need to install blast_datatypes from the Tool Shed. This defines the BLAST XML file format (blastxml), BLAST databases, etc:

As described above for an automated installation, you must also tell Galaxy about any system level BLAST databases using the tool-data/blastdb*.loc files. Also merge the tool-data/tool_data_table_conf.xml.sample contents into your tool_data_table_conf.xml file.

You must install the NCBI BLAST+ standalone tools somewhere on the system path. Currently the unit tests are written using BLAST+ 2.2.30.

Run the functional tests (adjusting the section identifier to match your tool_conf.xml.sample file):

./ -sid NCBI_BLAST+-ncbi_blast_plus_tools


You must tell Galaxy about any system level BLAST databases using configuration files blastdb.loc (nucleotide databases like NT) and blastdb_p.loc (protein databases like NR), and blastdb_d.loc (protein domain databases like CDD or SMART) which are located in the tool-data/ folder. Sample files are included which explain the tab-based format to use.

You can download the NCBI provided databases as tar-balls from here:

If using the optional taxonomy columns, you will also need to download the NCBI taxonomy files (taxdb.btd and taxdb.bti from taxdb.tar.gz on the BLAST database FTP site). Currently explicit version tracking of the taxonomy is not supported, and in order to use this you must set the $BLASTDB environment variable to include the path where you unzipped the taxonomy files. If this is not done, the taxonomy columns like species name will appear as N/A in the tabular output.

The BLAST+ binaries support multi-threaded operation, which is handled via the $GALAXY_SLOTS environment variable. This should be set automatically by Galaxy via your job runner settings, which allows you to (for example) allocate four cores to each BLAST job.

In addition, the BLAST+ wrappers also support high level parallelism by task splitting if use_tasked_jobs = True is enabled in the config/galaxy.ini configuration file (previously universe_wsgi.ini on older versions of Galaxy). Essentially, the FASTA input query files are broken up into batches of 1000 sequences, a separate BLAST child job is run for each chunk, and then the BLAST output files are merged (in order). This is transparent for the end user.


The wrappers now follow the Galaxy convention of underlying tool version with a galaxy specific suffix which gets reset to zero with each new BLAST version:

Version Changes
  • Updated for NCBI BLAST+ 2.10.1 release.
  • Supports locally installed v4 or v5 format BLAST databases (listed in the blastdb*.loc files).
  • makeblastdb and makeprofiledb still produce v4 format databases (pending updates to the Galaxy datatypes for v5).
  • Minimum word size for blastn now 4 (update from Anthony Bretaudeau).
  • Updated for NCBI BLAST+ 2.9.0 release (contribution from Anthony Bretaudeau).
  • Adopted BLAST version with integer Galaxy wrapper suffix.
  • Dropped legacy repository_dependencies.xml and tool_dependencies.xml files. Instead assumes conda for dependency resolution and requires at least Galaxy v16.10 which includes the BLAST datatypes.
  • blastdbcmd wrapper supports multiple locally installed databases (contribution from Frederic Sapet), or a database from your Galaxy history.

Prior releases used a self-contained version number (deliberately kept low to avoid any confusion with the NCBI BLAST version numbers):

Version Changes
  • Fixed tool_dependencies.xml to use BLAST+ 2.7.1 (useful only for older Galaxy instances - we recommend conda for dependencies now).
  • Fixed incomplete @CLI_OPTIONS@ macro in the help text for the tblastn and blastdbcmd wrappers.
  • Clarify help text for max hits option, confusing as depending on the output format it must be mapped to different command line arguments.
  • Extend gzipped query support to all the command line tools.
  • Workaround for gzipped support under Galaxy release 16.01 or older.
  • Updated for NCBI BLAST+ 2.7.1,
  • Depends on BioConda or legacy ToolShed package_blast_plus_2_7_1.
  • Document the BLAST+ 2.6.0 change in the standard 12 column output from qacc,sacc,... to qaccver,saccver,... instead.
  • Accept gzipped FASTA inputs for subject files, queries to blastn and input to makeblastdb (contribution from Anton Nekrutenko).
  • Document the BLAST+ 2.5.0 change in the standard 12 column output from qseqid,sseqid,... to qacc,sacc,... instead.
  • Support for per-matrix recommended gaps settings (-gapopen and -gapextend, contribution from Caleb Easterly and Jim Johnson).
  • Support for -window_size, -threshold, -comp_based_stats and revising -word_size to avoid using zero to mean default (contribution from Caleb Easterly).
  • Use <command detect_errors="aggressive"> (internal change only).
  • Single quote command line arguments (internal change only).
  • Show BLAST command line argument corresponding to each tool parameter (contribution from Nicola Soranzo).
  • Add -max_hsps option (contribution from Nicola Soranzo).
  • Add -use_sw_tback option for BLASTP (Nicola Soranzo).
  • Updated for NCBI BLAST+ 2.5.0, where GI numbers are less visible, tabular output changes with -parse_deflines, and percentage identifies are now given to 3dp rather than 2dp.
  • Depends on package_blast_plus_2_5_0 in ToolShed, or BioConda.
  • blastxml_to_tabular now also gives percentage idenity to 3dp.
  • Removed never-used binary and Python module dependency declarations (internal change only).
  • Allow searching against multiple locally installed databases (contribution from Gildas Le CorguillĂ© and Emma Prudent).
  • Minor XML and Python style changes (internal change only).
  • Set allow_duplicate_entries="False" in sample configuration file tool_data_table_conf.xml.
  • Fix identifers with pipes in blastdbcmd wrapper (Devon Ryan).
  • Re-enabled some *.loc file tests (these had not been supported on the Tool Shed test framework, but that is not currently in use).
  • Fixed macro problem with version field in blastxml_to_tabular.xml (contribution from Bjoern Gruening and Daniel Blankenberg).
  • Now depends on package_blast_plus_2_2_31 in ToolShed.
  • Tests updated for BLAST+ 2.2.31 instead of BLAST+ 2.2.30.
  • Define parallelism tag via a macro (internal change only).
  • Define wrapper versions via a macro (internal change only).
  • Update citation information now GigaScience paper is out.
  • Fixed regression using BLAST databases from the history. Currently Galaxy inputs must still use .extra_files_path rather than the more consise .extra_files available for output files (Issue #69)
  • Reorder XML elements (internal change only).
  • Planemo for Tool Shed upload (.shed.yml, internal change only).
  • Now depends on package_blast_plus_2_2_30 in ToolShed.
  • Tests updated for BLAST+ 2.2.30 instead of BLAST+ 2.2.29.
  • New tasks blastp-fast, blastx-fast and tblastn-fast.
  • New minimum query HSP coverage option, -qcov_hsp_perc.
  • Removed -word_size from RPS-BLAST and RPS-TBLASTN wrappers, this is set during database construction and should not have been offered as a command line option in releases prior to BLAST+ 2.2.30.
  • BLAST database blastdb*.loc files now accessed via the XML table definitions in Galaxy's tool_data_table_conf.xml file, setup via tool-data/tool_data_table_conf.xml.sample
  • Replace .extra_files_path with .files_path (internal change, thanks to Bjoern Gruening and John Chilton).
  • Added "NCBI BLAST+ integrated into Galaxy" preprint citation.
  • Requires blastdbd datatype (blast_datatypes v0.0.19).
  • Wrapper for makeprofiledb added to create protein domain databases (based on contribution from Bjoern Gruening).
  • The RPS-BLAST and RPS-TBLASTN wrappers support using a protein domain database from the user's history.
  • Tool definitions now embed citation information (by John Chilton).
  • BLAST tools support GI and SeqID filters (added by Bjoern Gruening).
  • Now depends on package_blast_plus_2_2_29 in ToolShed.
  • Tabular output now includes option to pick specific columns (based on contribution from Jim Johnson), including previously unavailable taxonomy columns.
  • BLAST XML to tabular tool supports multiple input files (based on contribution from Jim Johnson).
  • More detailed descriptions for BLASTN and BLASTP task option.
  • Wrappers for segmasker, dustmasker and convert2blastmask (contribution from Bjoern Gruening).
  • Supports using maskinfo with makeblastdb wrapper.
  • Supports setting a taxonomy ID in makeblastdb wrapper.
  • Subtle changes like new conditional settings will require some old workflows be updated to cope.
  • Use macros to simplify the XML wrappers (by John Chilton).
  • Added wrapper for dustmasker.
  • Enabled masking for makeblastdb (Nicola Soranzo).
  • Requires maskinfo-asn1 and maskinfo-asn1-binary datatypes, defined in blast_datatypes v0.0.17 on Galaxy ToolShed.
  • Tests updated for BLAST+ 2.2.27 instead of BLAST+ 2.2.26.
  • Now depends on package_blast_plus_2_2_27 in ToolShed.
  • Added unit tests for BLASTN and TBLASTX.
  • Added percentage identity option to BLASTN.
  • Fallback on ElementTree if cElementTree missing in XML to tabular.
  • Link to Tool Shed added to help text and this documentation.
  • Tweak blast_datatypes to also work on Test Tool Shed.
  • Dependency on new package_blast_plus_2_2_26 in Tool Shed.
  • Adopted standard MIT License.
  • Development moved to GitHub,
  • Updated citation information (Cock et al. 2013).
  • Added wrappers for rpsblast and rpstblastn, and new blastdb_d.loc for the domain databases they use (e.g. CDD, PFAM or SMART).
  • Correct case of exception regular expression (for error handling fall-back in case the return code is not set properly).
  • Clearer naming of output files.
  • The BLAST+ search tools now default to extended tabular output (all too often our users where having to re-run searches just to get one of the missing columns like query or subject length)
  • Added repository_dependencies.xml for automates installation of the blast_datatypes repository from the Tool Shed.
  • Stronger warning in help text against searching against subject FASTA files (better looking e-values than you might be expecting).
  • Support for makeblastdb and blastdbinfo with local BLAST databases in the history (using work from Edward Kirton), requires v0.0.14 of the blast_datatypes repository from the Tool Shed.
  • Use the new error handling options in Galaxy (the previously bundled script is no longer needed).
  • Implements genetic code option for translation searches.
  • Changes <parallelism> to 1000 sequences at a time (to cope with very large sets of queries where BLAST+ can become memory hungry)
  • Include warning that BLAST+ with subject FASTA gives pairwise e-values
  • Final revision as part of the Galaxy main repository, and the first release via the Tool Shed
  • More use of macros to simplify the wrappers.
  • Set number of threads via $GALAXY_SLOTS environment variable.
  • More descriptive default output names.
  • Tests require updated BLAST DB definitions (blast_datatypes v0.0.18).
  • Pre-check for duplicate identifiers in makeblastdb wrapper.
  • Tests updated for BLAST+ 2.2.28 instead of BLAST+ 2.2.27.
  • Now depends on package_blast_plus_2_2_28 in ToolShed.
  • Extended tabular output includes 'salltitles' as column 25.

Bug Reports

You can file an issue here or ask us on the Galaxy development list


This script and related tools were originally developed on the 'tools' branch of the following Mercurial repository:

As of July 2013, development is continuing on a dedicated GitHub repository:

For pushing a release to the test or main "Galaxy Tool Shed", use the following Planemo commands (which requires you have set your Tool Shed access details in ~/.planemo.yml and that you have access rights on the Tool Shed):

$ planemo shed_update -t testtoolshed --check_diff tools/ncbi_blast_plus/


$ planemo shed_update -t toolshed --check_diff tools/ncbi_blast_plus/

To just build and check the tar ball, use:

$ planemo shed_upload --tar_only tools/ncbi_blast_plus/
$ tar -tzf shed_upload.tar.gz
$ tar -tzf shed_upload.tar.gz | wc -l

This simplifies ensuring a consistent set of files is bundled each time, including all the relevant test files.

When updating the version of BLAST+, many of the sample data files used for the unit tests must be regenerated. This script automates that task:

$ tools/ncbi_blast_plus/

Licence (MIT)

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


Contents of this repository

Name Description Version Minimum Galaxy Version
low-complexity regions in protein sequences 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search protein domain database (PSSMs) with translated nucleotide query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Convert BLAST XML output to tabular 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search protein database with translated nucleotide query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
masks low complexity regions 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Make BLAST database 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search protein domain database (PSSMs) with protein query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search translated nucleotide database with protein query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search protein database with protein query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search nucleotide database with nucleotide query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Show BLAST database information from blastdbcmd 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Search translated nucleotide database with translated nucleotide query sequence(s) 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Make profile database 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Extract sequence(s) from BLAST database 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1
Convert masking information in lower-case masked FASTA input to file formats suitable for makeblastdb 2.10.1+galaxy0 16.1

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