I'm pretty new in bioinformatics.

I need to download FASTA sequences of several genes. The list of genes I have assembled consists of 140 genes, so I'd rather do this through via code than download each gene manually from the NCBI database.

The genes belong to 2 different organisms (bacteria) I have chosen, most of them are found in both organisms and some are specific to one or the other bacterium.

I've tried running this code which I found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK179288/

esearch -db nucleotide -query "aminoacyl-tRNA\ hydrolase" | efetch -format fasta

The gene of interest being aminoacyl-tRNA hydrolase here. But I don't know how to filter it for the specific organism, Neisseria meningitidis. Tried running this, without luck:

esearch -db nucleotide -query "aminoacyl-tRNA\ hydrolase" | efilter -organism [Neisseria meningitidis] | efetch -format fasta

Appreciate any help :)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Hi how does the list of 140 gene you are interested in look like? do you have gene accessions, or Ids or just gene symbols?, ie symbol: BRCA1 ; id : 672 ; accsession NC_000017.11 , are all the same gene. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2022 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ what output do you get from your commands? nothing, an error, the wrong gene? $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2022 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, please edit your question and add a few lines of your input file. Presumably, you have a list of genes, so please show us the list so we can understand the input format. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Dec 5, 2022 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ @user12256545 Right now I have the list on a word-document with locus name and gene-ID (that would be "pth" and 61281026 for aminoacyl-tRNA hydrolase). All genes seem to have the same accession nr. so that won't be useful unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – Vjon
    Dec 6, 2022 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


If I put the species name in quotes, I get expected (by me) output:

% esearch -db nucleotide -query "aminoacyl-tRNA\ hydrolase" | efilter -organism "Neisseria meningitidis" | efetch -format fasta
# outputs:
>NZ_JWNU01000010.1 Neisseria meningitidis strain Nm440716 Scaffold10, whole genome shotgun sequence
# [snip, tons of output]

Note that filtering down to only N. meningitidis still leaves all of the different sequenced accessions of this species, such that you will still have a lot of different annotated copies of this gene. You will need to filter more specifically to reduce that.

  • $\begingroup$ This was helpful, thank you! What would you suggest I use as identifier to filter more specifically? I tried substituting "aminoacyl-tRNA\ hydrolase" with gene-ID (61281026) but that doesn't seem to work. $\endgroup$
    – Vjon
    Dec 6, 2022 at 10:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Vjon I would suggest trying an NCBI taxid in place of the species name. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2022 at 20:01

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