Mothur is a bioinformatics toolkit for the needs of the microbial ecology related data analysis.


Version on CSC's Servers

Taito:,  1.39.5, 1.40.1, 1.42.0, 1.42.2, 1.42.3

Sisu: 1.36.1



In Taito, you can use Mothur with maximum of 24 computing cores.

Mothur jobs can be executed interactively in Taito-shell environment or in batch mode as Taito batch jobs. In Taito-shell you can use Mothur with 4 computing cores and 128 GB of memory.

In taito-shell, you can start Mothur interactive session with commands
module load biokit


To run larger jobs you should collect your Mothur commands to a command list and use Mothur in batch mode (

Once you have a working Mothur command file you can launch Mothur jobs that can take several days, if needed.

Below is a sample Mothur batch job file. In this example we assume that the Mothur commands are in file: my_mothur_task.txt.

#!/bin/bash -l
#SBATCH -J mothur
#SBATCH -o output_%j.txt
#SBATCH -e errors_%j.txt
#SBATCH -t 48:00:00
#SBATCH --nodes 1
#SBATCH -n 1
#SBATCH --cpus-per-task=16
#SBATCH -p serial
#SBATCH --mem=32000

module load biokit
mothur my_mothur_task.txt

The batch job script above allows your Mothur job to run in maximum 48 hours using 16 cores and 32 GB of memory. In Taito, you can use Mothur with maximun of 24 computing cores up to 14 days. For jobs longer than three days, you should add definition: #SBATCH -p longrun to the batch job file.

Note that you must also define the number of cores to use in the Mothur command file too.

The batch job script described above (in this case named as: can be submitted to the batch job system
with command:


More information about running batch jobs in Taito can be found from:



Sisu supecomputer is intended for MPI parallel jobs that are able to utilize more than 64 computing cores. Most of the Mothur tools can use only one core, but there are some Mothur commands that are able to use effectively a large batch of computing cores. These include: filter.seqs, dist.seqs, summary.seqs, screen.seqs, align.seqs, classify.seqs, pairwise.seqs.

If you are using some of the Mothur commands above, you can use Sisu for the executing the tasks. For example to calculate a pairwise distance matrix for sequence set input.fasta using 128 computing cores, you could used a batch job file like:

#!/bin/bash -l
#SBATCH -J mothur_job
#SBATCH -o mothur_job%J.out
#SBATCH -e mothur_job%J.err
#SBATCH -t 07:30:00
#SBATCH -p small
#SBATCH --ntasks-per-node=24

(( ncores = SLURM_NNODES * 24 ))

echo "Running mothur with $SLURM_NNODES nodes containing total of $ncores cores"

module load mothur

aprun -n $ncores mothur pairwise.txt

In the command script above 8 nodes (-N 8) are reserved. As each nodes has 24 cores, a total of 192 cores will be used. Note, that the information about the number of cores to be used must be added to the mothur command too. In this case the command file pairwise.txt could look like following:

pairwise.seqs(fasta=input.fasta, processors=192)

The parallel mothur job is submitted in Sisu with command:


More information about running batch jobs in Sisu can be found from the Sisu user guide.








Schloss, P.D., et al., Introducing mothur: Open-source, platform-independent, community-supported software for describing and comparing microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol, 2009. 75(23):7537-41.

The original tools:

Schloss, PD & Handelsman, J. (2006) Introducing SONS, a tool for OTU-based comparisons of membership and structure between microbial communities. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 72:6773-9.

Schloss, PD & Handelsman, J. (2006). Introducing TreeClimber, a test to compare community structures. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 72: 2379-84.

Schloss, PD & Handelsman, J. (2005). Introducing DOTUR, a computer program for defining operational taxonomic units and estimating species richness. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 71:1501-6.

Schloss, PD, Larget, BR, & Handelsman J. (2004). Integration of microbial ecology and statistics: a test to compare gene libraries. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 70:5485-92.