Circos > News > Scientific Papers
Circos at the EMBO NGS workshop in Tunis, Sept 15–25.

Circos on Cover of Cancer Cell

Yang et al. used network analysis approaches characterize a subtype of ovarian cancer associated with poor overall survival.

E-cadherin is a protein encoded by the CDH1 gene and is responsible for cell-cell adhesion. Yang linked the expression of E-cadherin to specific miRNAs that influenced the regulatory network singled out in this cancer subtype.

Yang D, Sun Y, Hu L et al. 2013 Integrated analyses identify a master microRNA regulatory network for the mesenchymal subtype in serous ovarian cancer Cancer cell 23:186-199

Circos reaches 500 literature citations

In October 2013 Circos reached a milestone - 500 citations in peer-reviewed literature.

To celebrate, I've made a commemorative poster that features over 400 Circos images from the literature.

citation list | image gallery | press highlights

Circos deals with 8 Gb Rye Genome

Because of its large 8 Gb genome, the genomic analysis of rye has lagged behind other cereals.

To address this, Martis et al. eastablished a linear gene order model for 72% of the rye genes based on synteny information from rice, sorghum and B. distachyon.

Although it appears that six major translocations shaped the modern rye genome, highly dissimilar conserved syntenic gene content, gene sequence diversity signatures, and phylogenetic networks were found for individual rye syntenic blocks.

Martis MM, Zhou R, Haseneyer G et al. 2013 Reticulate Evolution of the Rye Genome Plant Cell

Circos Stages Mesolithic to Neolithic Transition

Bollongino et al. present evidence of a slow transition between Mesolithic hunter-gatherer groups to Neolithic farmers.

Previous theories that the foragers disappeared shortly after the arrival of farmers are at odds with palaeogenetic and isotopic data analysis from Neolithic human skeletons from the Blätterhöhle burial site in Germany. Instead of an abrupt transition, the data suggest a more complex pattern of coexistence that persisted for over 2000 years.

Bollongino R, Nehlich O, Richards MP et al. 2013 2000 years of parallel societies in Stone Age Central Europe Science 342:479-481.

Circos in 54 million pixels

Ruddle et al. demonstrate their commodity hardware 54 million pixel data display in exploring copy number variation data.

Ruddle RA, Fateen W, Treanor Det al.. 2013. Leveraging Wall-sized High-Resolution Displays for Comparative Genomics Analyses of Copy Number Variation. In IEEE Symposium on Biological Data Visualization, Atlanta, GA.

Circos Tracks CO2 Emissions

Kanemoto et al. report on the disturbing trend of emissions leakage, in which developing countries are displacing emissions intensive production offshore.

The report confirms previous findings that adjusting for trade, developed countries emissions have increased, not decreased. A connection is made to the kind of emissions displacement that has already occurred for air pollution, where despite aggressive legislation in major emitters total global air pollution emissions have increased.

The conclusion warns us that "if regulatory policies do not account for embodied imports, global emissions are likely to rise even if developed countries emitters enforce strong national emissions targets."

Kanemoto K, Moran D, Lenzen M et al. 2013 International trade undermines national emission reduction targets: New evidence from air pollution Global Environmental Change

Circos Round — Lotus Sacred

The pleasing roundness of Circos is used by Ming et al. to depict the Sacred Lotus genome in the publication "Genome of the long-living sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.).

The Sacred lotus has religious significance in both Buddhism and Hinduism and has been used as a food and herbal medicine product in Asia for over 7,000 years. Its seeds have exceptional longevity, remaining viable for as long as 1,300 years.

The plant is known for its exceptional water repellency, known as the lotus effect. The latter property is due to the nanoscopic closely packed protuberances of its self-cleaning leaf surface, which have been adapted for the manufacture of a self-cleaning industrial paint, Lotusan.

Ming R, Vanburen R, Liu Y et al. 2013 Genome of the long-living sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) Genome Biol 14:R41.

6.9e11 g of oil and Circos was there

Rivers et a. describe the effects of the Deepwater Horizon blowout on the microbial blooms of petroleum-degrading bacteria.

By sequencing 66 million community transcripts, the identity of metabolically active microbes and their roles in petroleum consumption was revealed.

Rivers AR, Sharma S, Tringe SG et al. 2013 Transcriptional response of bathypelagic marine bacterioplankton to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill The ISME journal

Plants Love Circos

Circos frequently appears in plant literature, twice on the cover of Plant Biotechnology Journal in the last year.

Rai KM, Singh SK, Bhardwaj A et al. 2013 Large-scale resource development in Gossypium hirsutum L. by 454 sequencing of genic-enriched libraries from six diverse genotypes Plant biotechnology journal

Bekele WA, Wieckhorst S, Friedt W et al. 2013 High-throughput genomics in sorghum: from whole-genome resequencing to a SNP screening array Plant biotechnology journal

Circos has appeared 8 times each in the Plant Journal and Plant Cell.

Circos for R

Zhang et al. implement Circos in R.

Same round shape you expect. And now, in everyone's favourite open source statistics and data analysis environment.

CRAN RCircos package

Zhang H, Meltzer P, Davis S 2013 RCircos: an R package for Circos 2D track plots BMC Bioinformatics 14:244.

Circos Interchange Diagrams — Networks and Flow

Zeng et al. introduce a new type of visualization based on Circos, the interchange diagram, in their paper Visualizing Interchange Patterns in Massive Movement Data.

The design is applied to displaying movement data, such as daily trips made by passengers in a city. By incorporating interactivity, this visualization method is helpful to understand interchange patterns at different spatial (between trains, between cities) and time scales (different times of day).

Circos has been used for urban planning before. The town of Caceres in Spain has used Circos to communicate their urban planning strategy.

project website

Zeng W, Fu C-W, Arisona SM et al. 2013 Visualizing Interchange Patterns in Massive Movement Data Computer Graphics Forum 32:271-280

Circos connects to the connectome

Methods to visualize the connectome are reviewed in Craddock et al — Circos is one of them.

Craddock RC, Jbabdi S, Yan C-G et al. 2013 Imaging human connectomes at the macroscale Nat Meth 10:524-539.

The use of Circos for showing the connectome was introduced by Irimia et al. in Circular representation of human cortical networks for subject and population-level connectomic visualization.

A good layman description of the work can be found at the neurosceptic blog.

Irimia A, Chambers MC, Torgerson CM et al. 2012 Circular representation of human cortical networks for subject and population-level connectomic visualization NeuroImage, Irimia A, Chambers MC, Torgerson CM et al. 2012 Patient-tailored connectomics visualization for the assessment of white matter atrophy in traumatic brain injury Frontiers in Neurology 3

Circos is the Method for Visualizing Translocations

Genomic rearrangements can cause disease and are implicated in many cancers. Being able to see the patterns in these changes across samples and patients is important.

In the review article End-joining, Translocations and Cancer, Bunting and Nussenzweig demonstrate how compositing the genome circularly adds value and clarity to the presentation.

Bunting SF, Nussenzweig A 2013 End-joining, translocations and cancer Nat Rev Cancer

Circos Paints Chromosomes of Capsella Rubella

Slotte et al. use Circos to show the genomic structures, chromosome painting and comparative genomic mapping in C. rubella, A. lyrata and A. thaliana.

Their figure illustrates how Circos is effective at showing two-way comparisons of syntenic structure. For three-way comparison, consider hive plots.

Slotte T, Hazzouri KM, Agren JA et al. 2013 The Capsella rubella genome and the genomic consequences of rapid mating system evolution Nat Genet

Circos on the Cover Of Journal of Pathology

The June 2013 issue of the Journal of Pathology features a pair of Circos plots on the cover. The images are from the paper by Weier et al. describing TMPRSS2 and ERG rearrangements in prostate cancer.

"TMPRSS2–ERG rearrangements occur in approximately 50% of prostate cancers and therefore represent one of the most frequently observed structural rearrangements in all cancers."

Weier C, Haffner MC, Mosbruger T et al. 2013 Nucleotide resolution analysis of TMPRSS2 and ERG rearrangements in prostate cancer J Pathol 230:174-183.

Circos on the Cover Of Nature's Asian Journal of Andrology

The May 2013 Special Issue of Asian Journal of Andrology presents the outcomes from the Sixth Annual Forum on Prostate Disease (6th FPD), which was held on June 8-9, 2012 in Shanghai, China [source:]. The cover art for the issue shows a Circos plot of 90 significantly recurrent molecular alterations in prostate cancer from an analysis of 372 prostate tumors discussed in the Wyatt et al. review article.

The review summarizes the current state of understanding of prostate cancer, "including the sentinel role of copy number variation, the growing spectrum of oncogenic fusion genes, the potential influence of chromothripsis, and breakthroughs in defining mutation-associated subtypes. Increasing evidence suggests that genomic lesions frequently converge on specific cellular functions and signalling pathways, yet recurrent gene aberration appears rare".

Wyatt AW, Mo F, Wang Y et al. 2013 The diverse heterogeneity of molecular alterations in prostate cancer identified through next-generation sequencing Asian J Androl 15:301-308.

Brain Volume in Epilepsy

Pardoe et al. find that "Sodium valproate use in epilepsy is associated with parietal lobe thinning, reduced total brain volume, and reduced white matter volume."

The cover image shows antiepileptic drug combinations in intractable focal epilepsy cases. Linked drugs were being taken concurrently by an individual. Valproate cases are highlighted in orange.

Pardoe, HR, Berg, AT, and Jackson, GD 2013Sodium valproate use is associated with reduced parietal lobe thickness and brain volume Neurology 80(20):1895-1900.

Improving miR-mRNA Predictions

Rijlaarsdam et al. describe an algorithm for improving miR-mRNA predictions.

"Algorithms predicting miR-mRNA interactions generate high numbers of possible interactions, many of which might be non-existent or irrelevant in a certain biological context. It is desirable to develop a transparent, user-friendly, unbiased tool to enrich miR-mRNA predictions."

Rijlaarsdam MA, Rijlaarsdam DJ, Gillis AJ et al. 2013 miMsg: a target enrichment algorithm for predicted miR-mRNA interactions based on relative ranking of matched expression data Bioinformatics

Circos, Lung Cancer and Smoking

Imielinski et al. visualize mutations in the exome and genome sequences of 183 lung adenocarcinomas to reveal recurrent somatic mutations in the splicing factor gene U2AF1 and RBM10 and ARID1A, as well as EGFR and SIK2. Grouping the data revealed clusters that correlated with smoking history.

Imielinski M, Berger AH, Hammerman PS et al. 2012 Mapping the hallmarks of lung adenocarcinoma with massively parallel sequencing Cell 150:1107-1120.

Circos and Hive Plots describe regulatory networks

One of the first uses of Circos in the literature was to visualize the grapevine genome. Since then, Circos has gained popularity in the plant literature and has been used to look at poplar, rice and wheat, prairie cord grass, Arabidopsis as well as peach, apple and strawberry.

Here, Cockram et al. describe and visualize the control exerted by genes on the flowering time of members in the true grasses family (Poaceae).

Cockram J, Thiel T, Steuernagel B et al. 2012 Genome Dynamics Explain the Evolution of Flowering Time CCT Domain Gene Families in the Poaceae PLoS One 7:e45307.

Circle of Cancer

This Circos depiction of a tumor genome provides the cover of 30 November 2011 Science's Transitional Medicine issue in which Roychowdhury et al. describe personalized treatment for patients with colorectal and prostate cancer. By quickly sequencing normal and tumor DNA and RNA, suitable therapies can be tailored for the specific mutations identified.

1Roychowdhury S, Iyer MK, Robinson DR et al. 2011 Personalized Oncology Through Integrative High-Throughput Sequencing: A Pilot Study Science Translational Medicine 3:111ra121.

Towards a Human Pan-Genome

As reported in Wired, Li et al. use Circos to visualize the comparison of structural variation in two sequenced human genomes: Asian and Yoruban (African). It's been over 10 years since the first reference genome (comprising DNA from multiple individuals) was reported. Technological advancements have made it possible to now sequence 1000's of human genomes to identify genetic variations for tracing evolution, determining population patterns, and assessing disease susceptibility and other phenotypic traits.

Li Y, Zheng H, Luo R et al. 2011 Structural variation in two human genomes mapped at single-nucleotide resolution by whole genome de novo assembly Nature biotechnology 29:723-730.

Li R, Li Y, Zheng H et al. 2010 Building the sequence map of the human pan-genome Nature biotechnology 28:57-63.

For other references to Circos usage and items of note, see examples of published images and Circos citations.


31 October 2013

Circos reaches a milestone - 500 citations in peer-reviewed literature. To celebrate, I've made a commemorative poster that features over 400 Circos images from the literature.

citation list | image gallery | press highlights

Circos poster - 500 citations (400 x 517)
Circos reaches 500 citations in scientific literature.
30 October 2013

Boo! Circos appears on the cover of the Genome Informatics 2013 conference. The image is taken from Genome of the long-living sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) by Ming et al..

I had the opportunity to design the cover for the conference a few years back. The Genome Informatics 2010 cover showed a unique depiction of gene sequences mentioned in the abstract book.

Circos poster - 500 citations (300 x 474)
Circos on the cover of Genome Informatics 2013 program cover.
1 January 2013

Circos appears on the cover of Nature Review's 2013 Cancer Calendar in the form of a figure taken from

Shih AH, Abdel-Wahab O, Patel JP et al. 2012 The role of mutations in epigenetic regulators in myeloid malignancies Nat Rev Cancer 12:599-612.

Nature Reviews recognizes the importance of clear and informative figures:

"Indeed, given the adage that 'a picture paints a thousand words', good figures can encapsulate entire fields of cancer research without the need for extensive explanations."

Circos - Circular Genome Data Visualization (400 x 357)
8 December 2010

A Circos figure appears on the cover of Science Translational Medicine. I'm very happy to report that with this cover, Circos has appeared on the covers of both Nature and Science publications, the world's two top scientific journals.

Circos on the cover of Science Translational Medicine (310 x 427)
14 April 2010

Nature features an article by Heidi Ledford, The Cancer Genome Challenge, which uses Circos images from the COSMIC project to illustrate the landscape of structural variation in cancer.

Circos image in Nature - The Cancer Genome Challenge (969 x 431)
6Ledford H 2010 Big science: The cancer genome challenge Nature 464 (7291) 972-974.
1 March 2010

In a technology feature, Epigenome: mapping in motion, Monya Baker describes the current state of epigenetics and the search for epigenetic biological markers (1Baker M 2010 Epigenome: Mapping in Motion Nature Methods 7 (3) 181-186.).

The feature cites an article I wrote with Costello and Marra about epigenetics A first look at entire human methylomes, that included a figure I designed to show the richness of whole-genome epigenetic data and its variation across tissues.

Circos illustrates whole-genome epigenetic data (300 x 390)
Image from
24Costello JF, Krzywinski M, Marra MA 2009 A first look at entire human methylomes Nature biotechnology 27 (12) 1130-1132.
3 November 2009

An illustration of genome annotations of the E coli genome appears on the cover of Nature Biotechnology (vol 27, no 11). The image accompanies the article The transcription unit architecture of the Escherichia coli genome by Cho et al.

Circos image in Nature Biotechnology - Escherichia Coli (300 x 395)
23Cho BK, Zengler K, Qiu Y et al. 2009 The transcription unit architecture of the Escherichia coli genome Nature biotechnology 27 (11) 1043-1049.
18 June 2009

Circos is published in Genome Research. The paper comes with an attractive foldout poster! To cite circos, please use

Krzywinski, M. et al. Circos: an Information Aesthetic for Comparative Genomes. Genome Res (2009) 19:1639-1645.

Download the Endnote reference

Circos: an Information Aesthetic for Comparative Genomics. (971 x 240)
Figures 1, 2, 7 and 8 from Krzywinski, M. et al. Circos: an Information Aesthetic for Comparative Genomes. Genome Res (2009) 19:1639-1645.

ABSTRACT We created a visualization tool, called Circos, to facilitate the identification and analysis of similarities and differences arising from comparisons of genomes. Our tool is effective in displaying variation in genome structure and, generally, any other kind of positional relationships between genomic intervals. Such data are routinely produced by sequence alignments, hybridization arrays, genome mapping, and genotyping studies. Circos uses a circular ideogram layout to facilitate the display of relationships between pairs of positions by the use of ribbons, which encode the position, size, and orientation of related genomic elements. Circos is capable of displaying data as scatter, line and histogram plots, heat maps, tiles, connectors and text. Bitmap or vector images can be created from GFF-style data inputs and hierarchical configuration files, which can be easily generated by automated tools, making Circos suitable for rapid deployment in data analysis and reporting pipelines.

13 May 2009

An image created by Circos appears on the cover of the EMBO Journal (6 May 2009, vol 28, no 9). The image is a crop of a comparison of 4 genomes (human, chimp, mouse and zebrafish) which is available at full resolution as part of a poster.

Circos image on EMBO Journal cover (394 x 517)
Cover of The Embo Journal (6 May 2009, vol 28, no 9).
15 October 2008

Circos is being used in the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) to show structural variation and copy number changes.

Circos in COSMIC (400 x 198)
27Forbes SA, Tang G, Bindal N et al. 2009 COSMIC (the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer): a resource to investigate acquired mutations in human cancer Nucleic Acids Res 38 (Database issue) D652-657.
3 September 2008

A visual guide to Circos (Circos - an information aesthetic for comparative genomics) will be presented at the Genome Informatics meeting in Hinxton, UK (September 10-14, 2008). The guide presents some of the capabilities of Circos and its application in the field of comparative genomics and genome visualization.

Download: medium bitmap (7Mb) | huge bitmap (46Mb) | PDF (40Mb) | Illustrator (20Mb)

Circos - an information aesthetic for comparative genomics - presented at Genome Informatics 2008, Hinxton, UK (600 x 372)
27 April 2008
9 August 2007

Circos appears on the cover of American Scientist (Sept/Oct issue). The image accompanies the article Genetics and the Shape of Dogs by Elaine Ostrander. Read about the figure.

Circos - Circular Genome Data Visualization (400 x 490)
9 November 2006

Circos used in Nature publication Global trends of whole-genome duplications revealed by the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia by J.M. Aury et al. The image

This unusual, but effective, Circos image shows successive duplications in the Paramecium genome. The exterior circle displays all chromosome-sized scaffolds, and the three interior circles show the reconstructed sequences obtained by fusion of the paired sequences from each previous step.

Circos - Circular Genome Data Visualization (400 x 400)
57Aury JM, Jaillon O, Duret L et al. 2006 Global trends of whole-genome duplications revealed by the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia Nature 444 (7116) 171-178.