Optocoder: computational decoding of spatially indexed bead arrays


  • E. Senel
  • N. Rajewsky
  • N. Karaiskos


  • NAR Genomics and Bioinformatics


  • NAR Genom Bioinform 4 (2): lqac042


  • Advancing technologies that quantify gene expression in space are transforming contemporary biology research. A class of spatial transcriptomics methods uses barcoded bead arrays that are optically decoded via microscopy and are later matched to sequenced data from the respective libraries. To obtain a detailed representation of the tissue in space, robust and efficient computational pipelines are required to process microscopy images and accurately basecall the bead barcodes. Optocoder is a computational framework that processes microscopy images to decode bead barcodes in space. It efficiently aligns images, detects beads, and corrects for confounding factors of the fluorescence signal, such as crosstalk and phasing. Furthermore, Optocoder employs supervised machine learning to strongly increase the number of matches between optically decoded and sequenced barcodes. We benchmark Optocoder using data from an in-house spatial transcriptomics platform, as well as from Slide-Seq(V2), and we show that it efficiently processes all datasets without modification. Optocoder is publicly available, open-source and provided as a stand-alone Python package on GitHub: