How to install and use Quiver

Quiver is bundled in SMRTanalysis version 1.4 and later. The easiest way to get Quiver is to install the most recent version of SMRTanalysis.

If you want to install Quiver as a standalone package from the latest bleeding-edge code, follow the instructions below.

Note: please install this software on an isolated machine that does not have SMRTanalysis installed. Older versions of SMRTanalysis pollute the ``PYTHONPATH``, which has the undesirable effect of overriding ``virtualenv``-installed modules.


Quiver is an algorithm for calling highly accurate consensus from multiple PacBio reads, using a pair-HMM exploiting both the basecalls and QV metrics to infer the true underlying DNA sequence.

Quiver is available through the quiver script from the GenomicConsensus package. To use Quiver, the following PacBio software is required.

  • GenomicConsensus, containing quiver
  • ConsensusCore, a C++ library containing the core computational routines for Quiver
  • pbcore, a package providing access to PacBio data files

Required libraries and tools

To install the PacBio software, the following are required:

  • Boost >= 1.4.7 (standard C++ libraries)
  • SWIG >= 2.0.7 (library wrapper generator)
  • Python 2.7.3
  • virtualenv (builds isolated Python environments)

If you are within PacBio, these requirements are already installed within the cluster environment.

Otherwise, you will need to install them yourself. The automatic installation script requires that the swig executable is in your UNIX $PATH and that your boost installation can be found under /usr/include or /usr/local.

Data file requirements

To make the most accurate consensus calls possible, Quiver makes use of a battery of quality value metrics calculated by the basecaller. If you are using a SMRTportal installation verision 1.4 or later, then SMRTportal will load all the information Quiver needs, so you can skip the rest of this section.

In SMRTportal versions 1.3.3 and prior, by default only a subset of these quality values are included in the .cmp.h5 files produced by SMRTanalysis. To get a .cmp.h5 with all the QVs loaded, you will need to use the RS_Mapping_QVs protocol to create a cmp.h5 file for Quiver.

If you are using an older version than SMRTportal/SMRTanalysis 1.3.3, please upgrade.

Automatic installation instructions

If your system meets the installation requirements, you can perform an automatic installation of the PacBio software for Quiver by executing:

$ curl -L | bash

Manual installation instructions

If your SWIG or BOOST installations are in non-standard locations or you encounter a problem with the automatic installation script, you can follow these steps to install Quiver manually.

Step 1: Set up your Python environment

I recommend using a Python virtualenv to isolate your sandbox.

To set up a new virtualenv, do

$ cd; virtualenv -p python2.7 --no-site-packages VE-QUIVER

and activate the virtualenv using

$ source ~/VE-QUIVER/bin/activate

There are some additional Python libraries required (NumPy and h5py), which can be installed via

$ pip install numpy==1.6.1
$ pip install h5py==2.0.1

Step 2: Install PacBio libraries

To install the PacBio software, execute

$ pip install git+
$ git clone
$ cd ConsensusCore; python install --swig=$SWIG --boost=$BOOST
$ pip install git+

where you replace $SWIG with the path to your swig executable and $BOOST with the path to your boost install (the top level directory). (Note that if SWIG is in your $PATH and boost is in /usr/local or /usr/include/, you do not need to specify these flags on the command line— will find them).

Step 3: Run Quiver

Those who wish to call consensus on a resequencing job can simply use the quiver script that has been installed in your virtualenv (from GenomicConsensus).

For example,

$ quiver -j8 aligned_reads.cmp.h5           \
>        -r path/to/lambda.fasta            \
>        -o variants.gff -o consensus.fasta

will use 8 CPUs to run Quiver on aligned_reads.cmp.h5, outputting the consensus sequence and variants.

Note that if you have not used the RS_Mapping_QVs protocol to generate the cmp.h5 file—or if the source bas.h5 file was generated by pre-1.3.1 instrument software—the cmp.h5 will not contain the full battery of QV metrics required for optimal Quiver accuracy. The command will still work, but it will give a warning that its accuracy will be suboptimal.

Step 4: Highly-accurate assembly consensus

Quiver enables consensus accuracies on genome assemblies at accuracies approaching or even exceeding Q60 (one error per million bases). If you use the HGAP assembly protocol in SMRTportal 2.0 or later, Quiver runs automatically as the final “assembly polishing” step.

If you want to use Quiver to manually polish an assembly, you need to:

  • upload your draft assembly to SMRTportal as a new reference,
  • run the Resequencing protocol to call the consensus of your PacBio reads as oriented by the draft assembly. The variants output will show the “corrections” made by Quiver, while the consensus FASTA/FASTQ output contain the sequence and quality of the polished assembly.

Known issues

There is a bug in the multiprocessing module in Python 2.7.2 and lower that causes the interpreter to crash during shutdown. Use Python 2.7.3 or newer.


Here is an FAQ document to address common issues.

For a technical summary of some of the details of how Quiver works, I recommend reading the supplementary material of our 2013 Nature Methods HGAP paper