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JEXL queries in VariantFiltration can fail silently

daveuudaveuu Liverpool, UKMember


The following JEXL filterExpression is "wrong", but VariantFiltration will process a VCF with it and produces a VCF identical to the input i.e., it fails silently:

java -jar /pub16/davidw/GenomeAnalysisTK.jar \
-T VariantFiltration \
-R genome_sequences/GCF_000172575.2.fna \
-V test_SNPs.vcf \
--filterExpression "\"QD < 2.0 || FS > 60.0 || MQ < 40.0 || MQRankSum < -12.5 || ReadPosRankSum < -8.0\"" \
--filterName "standard_hard_filter" \
-o test_SNPs_bash_doublequote.vcf

I realise the filterExpression is not valid JEXL but my concern is that GATK does not report it as such. In this case the extra quotes are from an upstream bug in a wrapper around GATK so clearly not GATK-related.

My expectation would be GATK (or the Java library is uses for JEXL) to indicate to the user no filtering will be done on any VCF because the JEXL makes no sense. I think silently not filtering is not ideal behaviour from GATK, although I realised a responsible user should do some manual checks and fix their expression accordingly.

It could be that inner three statements are properly parsed and some variants would be filtered. If that's the case I'm curious how GATK would be interpreting the outer two (with the rogue quotation marks).




  • Will_GilksWill_Gilks University of Sussex, UKMember ✭✭


    I solved some Jexl expression filter issues by removing the whitespace from the expressions themselves. Maybe this will help you. I think it's sensitive to linux version or something.


  • Geraldine_VdAuweraGeraldine_VdAuwera Cambridge, MAMember, Administrator, Broadie admin

    I agree that it would be nice to have some basic validation of the JEXL. The problem is that it's not at all straightforward, and we don't have resources available to do it. We'd be happy to take a patch if someone wants to take a stab at it of course.

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