The COVID-19 pandemic has ignited a broad scientific interest in viral research in general and coronavirus research in particular. The identification and characterization of viral species in natural reservoirs typically involves de novo assembly. However, existing genome, metagenome and transcriptome assemblers often are not able to assemble many viruses (including coronaviruses) into a single contig. Coverage variation between datasets and within dataset, presence of close strains, splice variants and contamination set a high bar for assemblers to process viral datasets with diverse properties.


We developed coronaSPAdes, a novel assembler for RNA viral species recovery in general and coronaviruses in particular. coronaSPAdes leverages the knowledge about viral genome structures to improve assembly extending ideas initially implemented in biosyntheticSPAdes. We have shown that coronaSPAdes outperforms existing SPAdes modes and other popular short-read metagenome and viral assemblers in the recovery of full-length RNA viral genomes.

Availability and implementation

coronaSPAdes version used in this article is a part of SPAdes 3.15 release and is freely available at

Supplementary information

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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