Image Enhancement for Tracking the Translucent Larvae of Drosophila melanogaster




Khurana, Sukant
Li, Wen-Ke
Atkinson, Nigel S.

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Public Library of Science


Drosophila melanogaster larvae are model systems for studies of development, synaptic transmission, sensory physiology, locomotion, drug discovery, and learning and memory. A detailed behavioral understanding of larvae can advance all these fields of neuroscience. Automated tracking can expand fine-grained behavioral analysis, yet its full potential remains to be implemented for the larvae. All published methods are unable to track the larvae near high contrast objects, including the petri-dish edges encountered in many behavioral paradigms. To alleviate these issues, we enhanced the larval contrast to obtain complete tracks. Our method employed a dual approach of optical-contrast boosting and post-hoc image processing for contrast enhancement. We reared larvae on black food media to enhance their optical contrast through darkening of their digestive tracts. For image processing we performed Frame Averaging followed by Subtraction then Thresholding (FAST). This algorithm can remove all static objects from the movie, including petri-dish edges prior to processing by the image-tracking module. This dual approach for contrast enhancement also succeeded in overcoming fluctuations in illumination caused by the alternating current power source. Our tracking method yields complete tracks, including at the edges of the behavioral arena and is computationally fast, hence suitable for high-throughput fine-grained behavioral measurements.



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Khurana S, Li W-K, Atkinson NS (2010) Image Enhancement for Tracking the Translucent Larvae of Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE 5(12): e15259. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015259