High-throughput image segmentation and machine learning approaches in the plant sciences across multiple scales
[Review of ]. EMERGING TOPICS IN LIFE SCIENCES, 5(2), 239–248.
Agriculture has benefited greatly from the rise of big data and high-performance computing. The acquisition and analysis of data across biological scales have resulted in strategies modeling inter- actions between plant genotype and environment, models of root architecture that provide insight into resource utilization, and the elucidation of cell-to-cell communication mechanisms that are instrumental in plant development. Image segmentation and machine learning approaches for interpreting plant image data are among many of the computational methodologies that have evolved to address challenging agricultural and biological problems. These approaches have led to contributions such as the accelerated identification of gene that modulate stress responses in plants and automated high-throughput phenotyping for early detection of plant diseases. The continued acquisition of high throughput imaging across multiple biological scales provides opportunities to further push the boundaries of our understandings quicker than ever before. In this review, we explore the current state of the art methodologies in plant image segmentation and machine learning at the agricultural, organ, and cellular scales in plants. We show how the methodologies for segmentation and classification differ due to the diversity of physical characteristics found at these different scales. We also discuss the hardware technologies most commonly used at these different scales, the types of quantitative metrics that can be extracted from these images, and how the biological mechanisms by which plants respond to abiotic/biotic stresses or genotypic modifications can be extracted from these approaches.