A comparison of ImageJ and machine learning based image analysis methods to measure cassava bacterial blight disease severity

Kiona Elliott, Jeffrey C. Berry, Hobin Kim, Rebecca S. Bart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Methods to accurately quantify disease severity are fundamental to plant pathogen interaction studies. Commonly used methods include visual scoring of disease symptoms, tracking pathogen growth in planta over time, and various assays that detect plant defense responses. Several image-based methods for phenotyping of plant disease symptoms have also been developed. Each of these methods has different advantages and limitations which should be carefully considered when choosing an approach and interpreting the results. Results: In this paper, we developed two image analysis methods and tested their ability to quantify different aspects of disease lesions in the cassava-Xanthomonas pathosystem. The first method uses ImageJ, an open-source platform widely used in the biological sciences. The second method is a few-shot support vector machine learning tool that uses a classifier file trained with five representative infected leaf images for lesion recognition. Cassava leaves were syringe infiltrated with wildtype Xanthomonas, a Xanthomonas mutant with decreased virulence, and mock treatments. Digital images of infected leaves were captured overtime using a Raspberry Pi camera. The image analysis methods were analyzed and compared for the ability to segment the lesion from the background and accurately capture and measure differences between the treatment types. Conclusions: Both image analysis methods presented in this paper allow for accurate segmentation of disease lesions from the non-infected plant. Specifically, at 4-, 6-, and 9-days post inoculation (DPI), both methods provided quantitative differences in disease symptoms between different treatment types. Thus, either method could be applied to extract information about disease severity. Strengths and weaknesses of each approach are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalPlant Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Cassava bacterial blight
  • Disease symptoms
  • Image analysis
  • ImageJ
  • Machine learning


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