This function is used instead of polar_coords if you have raw RNA-Seq count data. It takes results from a 2x3 design DESeq2 analysis using deseq_2x3(). Alternatively it will accept a list of 3 DESeqDataSet or DESeqResults objects each with the same type of binary comparison across 3 groups. Statistical results are extracted and converted to a 'volc3d' object, which can be directly plotted. Example usage would include comparing gene expression against a binary outcome e.g. response vs non-response, across 3 drugs.

  pcutoff = 0.05,
  fc_cutoff = NULL,
  padj.method = "BH",
  process = c("positive", "negative", "two.sided"),
  scheme = c("grey60", "red", "gold2", "green3", "cyan", "blue", "purple", "black"),
  labs = NULL



A named list of 3 objects of class 'DESeqDataSet', or a list of 3 DESeq2 results dataframes generated by calling DESeq2::results(). Each object should contain the binary outcome comparison for each of the 3 groups, e.g. group A response vs non-response, group B response vs non-response, group C etc. The names of the groups are taken from the list names.


Cut-off for p-value significance


Cut-off for fold change on radial axis


Can be "qvalue" or any method available in p.adjust. The option "none" is a pass-through.


Character value specifying colour process for statistical significant genes: "positive" specifies genes are coloured if fold change is >0; "negative" for genes with fold change <0 (note that for clarity the polar position is altered so that genes along each axis have the most strongly negative fold change values); or "two.sided" which is a compromise in which positive genes are labelled as before but genes with negative fold changes and significant p-values have an inverted colour scheme.


Vector of colours starting with non-significant genes/variables


Optional character vector for labelling groups. Default NULL leads to abbreviated labels based on levels in outcome using abbreviate(). A vector of length 3 with custom abbreviated names for the outcome levels can be supplied. Otherwise a vector length 8 is expected, of the form "ns", "A+", "A+B+", "B+", "B+C+", "C+", "A+C+", "A+B+C+", where "ns" means non-significant and A, B, C refer to levels 1, 2, 3 in outcome, and must be in the correct order.


Returns an S4 'volc3d' object containing:

  • 'df' A list of 2 dataframes. Each dataframe contains both x,y,z coordinates as well as polar coordinates r, angle. The first dataframe has coordinates based on the DESeq2 statistic. The 2nd dataframe is unscaled and represents log2 fold change for gene expression. The type argument in volcano3D, radial_plotly and radial_ggplot corresponds to these dataframes.

  • 'outcome' An empty factor whose levels are the three-group contrast factor for comparisons

  • 'data' Empty dataframe for compatibility

  • 'pvals' A dataframe containing p-values. Columns 1-3 are pairwise comparisons between the outcome factor for groups A, B, C respectively.

  • 'padj' A dataframe containing p-values adjusted for multiple testing

  • 'pcutoff Numeric value for cut-off for p-value significance

  • 'scheme' Character vector with colour scheme for plotting

  • 'labs' Character vector with labels for colour groups


This function generates a 'volc3d' class object for visualising a 2x3 way analysis for RNA-Seq data. For usual workflow it is typically preceded by a call to deseq_2x3() which runs the 3x DESeq2 analyses required.

Scaled polar coordinates are based on the DESeq2 statistic for each group comparison. Unscaled polar coordinates are generated using the log2 fold change for each group comparison.

The z axis for 3d volcano plots does not have as clear a corollary in 2x3 analysis as for the standard 3-way analysis (which uses the likelihood ratio test for the 3 groups). For 2x3 polar analysis the smallest p-value from the 3 group pairwise comparisons for each gene is used to generate a z coordinate as -log10(p-value).

The colour scheme is not as straightforward as for the standard polar plot and volcano3D plot since genes (or attributes) can be significantly up or downregulated in the response comparison for each of the 3 groups. process = "positive" means that genes are labelled with colours if a gene is significantly upregulated in the response for that group. This uses the primary colours (RGB) so that if a gene is upregulated in both red and blue groups it becomes purple etc with secondary colours. If the gene is upregulated in all 3 groups it is labelled black. Non-significant genes are in grey.

With process = "negative" genes are coloured when they are significantly downregulated. With process = "two.sided" the colour scheme means that both significantly up- and down-regulated genes are coloured with downregulated genes labelled with inverted colours (i.e. cyan is the inverse of red etc). However, significant upregulation in a group takes precedence.

See also