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Image Enhancement for Tracking the Translucent Larvae of Drosophila melanogaster

Summary: Image Enhancement for Tracking the Translucent Larvae
of Drosophila melanogaster
Sukant Khurana*.
, Wen-Ke Li.
, Nigel S. Atkinson
Section of Neurobiology and Institute for Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States of America
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.


Source: Atkinson, Nigel - Section of Neurobiology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin


Collections: Biology and Medicine