plyranges provides a consistent interface for importing and wrangling genomics data from a variety of sources. The package defines a grammar of genomic data transformation based on dplyr and the Bioconductor packages IRanges, GenomicRanges, and rtracklayer. It does this by providing a set of verbs for developing analysis pipelines based on Ranges objects that represent genomic regions:

  • Modify genomic regions with the mutate() and stretch() functions.
  • Modify genomic regions while fixing the start/end/center coordinates with the anchor_ family of functions.
  • Sort genomic ranges with arrange().
  • Modify, subset, and aggregate genomic data with the mutate(), filter(), and summarise()functions.
  • Any of the above operations can be performed on partitions of the data with group_by().
  • Find nearest neighbour genomic regions with the join_nearest_ family of functions.
  • Find overlaps between ranges with the join_overlaps_ family of functions.
  • Merge all overlapping and adjacent genomic regions with reduce_ranges().
  • Merge the end points of all genomic regions with disjoin_ranges().
  • Import and write common genomic data formats with the read_/write_ family of functions.

For more details on the features of plyranges, read the vignette. For a complete case-study on using plyranges to combine ATAC-seq and RNA-seq results read the fluentGenomics workflow.


plyranges can be installed from the latest Bioconductor release:

To install the development version from GitHub:


Quick overview

About Ranges

Ranges objects can either represent sets of integers as IRanges (which have start, end and width attributes) or represent genomic intervals (which have additional attributes, sequence name, and strand) as GRanges. In addition, both types of Ranges can store information about their intervals as metadata columns (for example GC content over a genomic interval).

Ranges objects follow the tidy data principle: each row of a Ranges object corresponds to an interval, while each column will represent a variable about that interval, and generally each object will represent a single unit of observation (like gene annotations).

We can construct a IRanges object from a data.frame with a start or width using the as_iranges() method.

We can also construct a GRanges object in a similar manner. Note that a GRanges object requires at least a seqnames column to be present in the data.frame (but not necessarily a strand column).

Example: finding GWAS hits that overlap known exons

Let’s look at a more a realistic example (taken from HelloRanges vignette).

Suppose we have two GRanges objects: one containing coordinates of known exons and another containing SNPs from a GWAS.

The first and last 5 exons are printed below, there are two additional columns corresponding to the exon name, and a score.

We could check the number of exons per chromosome using group_by and summarise.

Next we create a column representing the transcript_id with mutate:

exons <- exons %>%
  mutate(tx_id = sub("_exon.*", "", name))

To find all GWAS SNPs that overlap exons, we use join_overlap_inner. This will create a new GRanges with the coordinates of SNPs that overlap exons, as well as metadata from both objects.

For each SNP we can count the number of times it overlaps a transcript.

We can also generate 2bp splice sites on either side of the exon using flank_left and flank_right. We add a column indicating the side of flanking for illustrative purposes. The interweave function pairs the left and right ranges objects.

Learning more


We welcome contributions from the R/Bioconductor community. We ask that contributors follow the code of conduct and the guide outlined here.