Many commonly used bioinformatics software packages on Rivanna are available as individual modules or as Python packages bundled in the bioconda modules.


General considerations

Most bioinformatics software packages are designed to run on a single compute node with varying support for multi-threading and utilization of multiple cpu cores.  Accordingly, the SLURM job scripts should contain the following two SBATCH directives:

#SBATCH -N 1                    # request single node
#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=<X>     # request multiple cpu cores

Replace <X> with the actual number of cpu cores to be requested.  Requesting more than 8 cpu cores does not provide any significant performance gain for most bioinformatics packages.  This is a limitation due to code design rather than a Rivanna constraint.

You should only deviate from this general resource request format if you are absolutely certain that the software package supports execution on more than one compute node.  


List of bioinformatics modules 

To get an up-to-date list of the installed bioinformatics applications, log on to Rivanna and run the following command in a terminal window:

module keyword bio

This will return results like this:

The following modules match your search criteria: "bio"

  R: R/0.3.4-bare, R/3.2.1, R/3.3.0
    R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.

  amber: amber/10
    A suite of biomolecular simulation programs. It began in the late 1970's, and is maintained by an active develpment community. 

  ascmeme: ascmeme/devel
    ASC+MEME is a fast motif discovery tool that is 10,000 times faster than MEME while preserving the same accuracy.

  bcftools: bcftools/1.3.1
    BCFtools is a set of utilities that manipulate variant calls in the Variant Call Format (VCF) and its binary counterpart BCF

To get more information about a specific module version, run the module spider command, for example:

module spider bcftools/1.3.1


  bcftools: bcftools/1.3.1
      BCFtools is a set of utilities that manipulate variant calls in the Variant Call Format (VCF) and its binary counterpart BCF

    This module can be loaded directly: module load bcftools/1.3.1

    Additional variants of this module can also be loaded after loading the following modules:

      BCFtools is a set of utilities that manipulate variant calls in the Variant Call Format (VCF) and its binary counterpart BCF
      Application class: bio
      More information
       - Homepage:


Using a specific module and its application

To use a specific software package, run the module load command.  The module load command in itself does not execute any of the programs but only prepares the environment, i.e. it sets up variables needed to run specific applications and find libraries provided by the module.

After loading a module, you are ready to run the application(s) provided by the module.  For example:

module load bcftools/1.3.1
bcftools --version


bcftools 1.3.1
Using htslib 1.3.1
Copyright (C) 2016 Genome Research Ltd.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later 
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


Bioconda Python packages 

Many bioinformatics Python packages are now maintained and available for the popular Anaconda Python distribution.  Python packages for the Anaconda distribution are maintained in a variety of different bundles, called channels.  The bioconda channel is specifically set up for the maintenance and distribution of  popular bioinformatics packages.  On Rivanna, we offer two bioconda modules, one using Python 2.7 and the other using Python 3.6.

To see the list of available bioconda modules, run the module spider command:

module spider bioconda


      Bioconda is a channel for the conda package manager specializing in bioinformatics software.



The bioconda/py2.7 and bioconda/py3.6 modules are backed by Anaconda distributions using Python 2.7 and Python 3.6, respectively.  To view an up-to-date list of the Python packages provided by a particular bioconda module, load the bioconda module and run the conda list command. For example:

module load bioconda/py2.7
conda list | grep bioconda

The grep command filters the Python package list to only show the Bioconda channel packages. The output may look like this:

# packages in environment at /apps/software/standard/core/bioconda/py2.7:
bcftools                  1.9                  h4da6232_0    bioconda
biopython                 1.68                np110py27_1    bioconda
htslib                    1.9                  hc238db4_4    bioconda
kallisto                  0.44.0               h7d86c95_2    bioconda
libdeflate                1.0                  h470a237_0    bioconda
macs2              py27h7eb728f_3    bioconda
mmtf-python               1.0.2                    py27_0    bioconda
pybigwig                  0.3.12           py27hdfb72b2_0    bioconda
salmon                    0.11.2               h445c947_0    bioconda
samtools                  1.9                  h46bd0b3_0    bioconda

Note that not all bioinformatics packages have been ported from Python 2.7 to Python 3 yet.  So if you cannot find a specific Python Package in the bioconda/py3.6 module, it is worthwhile checking the bioconda/py2.7 module.