Submitting Sequence Annotations


To submit an analysis programmatically, two XML files must be generated to describe the submission.

  • Analysis XML - used for describing the analysis you would like to submit
  • Submission XML - tells ENA how to process this submission

These are then submitted to ENA through the secure HTTPS protocol using POST multipart/form-data according to RFC1867. Please see the general guide on Programmatic Submission for more information.

Step 1: Create Analysis XML

This XML is used for:

  • Associating the analysis with other ENA objects
  • Listing all files required for submission
  • Describing metadata of the object

Here is an example of a sequence annotation analysis XML:

    <ANALYSIS alias="YF3059">
        <TITLE>Y chromosome sequence STR analysis using lobSTR</TITLE>
        <DESCRIPTION>Y chromosome sequence STR analysis using lobSTR</DESCRIPTION>
        <STUDY_REF accession="ERP011288"/>
        <SAMPLE_REF accession="ERS1023190"/>
        <RUN_REF accession="ERR1198112"/>
            <FILE filename="" filetype="tab" checksum_method="MD5"

Defining the Analysis Type

The most distinguishing part of an analysis object is contained in the <ANALYSIS_TYPE> block. The content of this block determines the type of data the analysis should contain and how it will be validated by ENA after it has been submitted.

Analysis type <SEQUENCE_ANNOTATION> is for submitting sequence annotation files. These are usually tab files. Examples include gene count and OTU tables from metagenomic studies.

Sequence annotation analyses must be associated with a study and at most one sample.

Associating with Other ENA Objects

Associating with the Study

An analysis points to the study it is part of using the <STUDY_REF> element. This can be done either by using an accession:

<STUDY_REF accession="ERP123456"/>

or a name within the submitter’s account:

<STUDY_REF refname="mantis_religiosa"/>

Associating with Samples

An analysis can be associated with one or more samples using the <SAMPLE_REF> element either using an accession or alias to refer to the sample.

Associating with Experiments and Runs

An analysis can be associated with any number of experiments or runs using the <EXPERIMENT_REF> and <RUN_REF> elements. Again, either an accession or alias can be used in the reference.

Preparing Files For Submission

Upload Data Files

Please upload all data files required for submission.

Once the analysis has been submitted, all the data files described in the analysis XML will be moved from the Webin upload area into the archive.

You can upload your data files to the root directory of your upload area or you can create subdirectories and upload your files there.

Describe Data Files for Submission

You should then describe these data files in your analysis XML with the <FILE> element.

To descibe files required for submission, the analysis object has a <FILES> block. This submits the data files into the archive.

For example:

    <FILE filename="" filetype="tab" checksum_method="MD5"

If the files are uploaded to the root directory then simply enter the file name in the Analysis XML when referring to it:

<FILE filename=""" ... />

If the files are uploaded into a subdirectory (e.g. mantis_religiosa) then prefix the file name with the name of the subdirectory:

<FILE filename="mantis_religiosa/"" ... />

Adding Additional Metadata

All other metadata used to describe the analysis can be provided using ANALYSIS_ATTRIBUTE elements in the XML:

       <TAG>library preparation date</TAG>

Step 2: Create the Submission XML

Once you have created your analysis XML, you need an accompanying submission XML in a separate file to tell ENA what actions you would like to take for your submission.


The submission XML declares one or more Webin submission service actions. See the general guide on Programmatic Submission for more information.

In this case the action is <ADD/> which is used to submit new objects.

The XMLs can then be submitted programmatically, using CURL on command line or using the Webin submissions portal.

Step 3: Submit the XMLs

Submit the XMLs Using CURL

CURL is a Linux/Unix command line program which you can use to send the analysis.xml and submission.xml to the Webin submission service.

curl -u username:password -F "SUBMISSION=@submission.xml" -F "ANALYSIS=@analysis.xml" ""

Please provide your Webin submission account credentials using the username and password.

After running the command above a receipt XML is returned. It will look like the one below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<RECEIPT receiptDate="2017-08-11T15:07:36.746+01:00" submissionFile="sub.xml" success="true">
   <ANALYSIS accession="ERZ0151578" alias="08-1736" status="PRIVATE"/>
   <SUBMISSION accession="ERA986371" alias="08-1736"/>
       <INFO>This submission is a TEST submission and will be discarded within 24 hours</INFO>

Submit the XMLs Using Webin submissions portal

XMLs can also be submitted interactively using the Webin submissions portal. Please refer to the Webin submissions portal document for an example how to submit a study using XML. Other types of XMLs can be submitted using the same approach.

The Receipt XML

To know if the submission was successful look in the first line of the <RECEIPT> block.

The attribute success will have value true or false. If the value is false then the submission did not succeed. In this case check the rest of the receipt for error messages and after making corrections, try the submission again.

If the success attribute is true then the submission was successful. The receipt will contain the accession numbers of the objects that you have submitted.

Test and Production Services

Note the message in the receipt:

<INFO>This submission is a TEST submission and will be discarded within 24 hours</INFO>

It is advisable to first test your submissions using the Webin test service where changes are not permanent and are erased every 24 hours.

Once you are happy with the result of the submission you can use the CURL command again but this time using the production service. Simply change the part in the URL from to

curl -u username:password -F "SUBMISSION=@submission.xml" -F "ANALYSIS=@analysis.xml" ""

Similarly, if you are using the Webin submissions portal change the URL from to