Automatic multiple zebrafish larvae tracking in unconstrained microscopic video conditions.

Research paper by Xiaoying X Wang, Eva E Cheng, Ian S IS Burnett, Yushi Y Huang, Donald D Wlodkowic

Indexed on: 16 Dec '17Published on: 16 Dec '17Published in: Scientific Reports


The accurate tracking of zebrafish larvae movement is fundamental to research in many biomedical, pharmaceutical, and behavioral science applications. However, the locomotive characteristics of zebrafish larvae are significantly different from adult zebrafish, where existing adult zebrafish tracking systems cannot reliably track zebrafish larvae. Further, the far smaller size differentiation between larvae and the container render the detection of water impurities inevitable, which further affects the tracking of zebrafish larvae or require very strict video imaging conditions that typically result in unreliable tracking results for realistic experimental conditions. This paper investigates the adaptation of advanced computer vision segmentation techniques and multiple object tracking algorithms to develop an accurate, efficient and reliable multiple zebrafish larvae tracking system. The proposed system has been tested on a set of single and multiple adult and larvae zebrafish videos in a wide variety of (complex) video conditions, including shadowing, labels, water bubbles and background artifacts. Compared with existing state-of-the-art and commercial multiple organism tracking systems, the proposed system improves the tracking accuracy by up to 31.57% in unconstrained video imaging conditions. To facilitate the evaluation on zebrafish segmentation and tracking research, a dataset with annotated ground truth is also presented. The software is also publicly accessible.