CARlasso: An R package for the estimation of sparse microbial networks with predictors. Microbiome data analyses require statistical tools that can simultaneously decode microbesâ€™ reactions to the environment and interactions among microbes. We introduce CARlasso, the first user-friendly open-source and publicly available R package to fit a chain graph model for the inference of sparse microbial networks that represent both interactions among nodes and effects of a set of predictors. Unlike in standard regression approaches, the edges represent the correct conditional structure among responses and predictors that allows the incorporation of prior knowledge from controlled experiments. In addition, CARlasso 1) enforces sparsity in the network via LASSO; 2) allows for an adaptive extension to include different shrinkage to different edges; 3) is computationally inexpensive through an efficient Gibbs sampling algorithm so it can equally handle small and big data; 4) allows for continuous, binary, counting and compositional responses via proper hierarchical structure, and 5) has a similar syntax to lm for ease of use. The package also supports Bayesian graphical LASSO and several of its hierarchical models as well as lower level one-step sampling functions of the CAR-LASSO model for users to extend.

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