An automated, high-Throughput method for standardizing image color profiles to improve image-based plant phenotyping

Jeffrey C. Berry, Noah Fahlgren, Alexandria A. Pokorny, Rebecca S. Bart, Kira M. Veley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


High-Throughput phenotyping has emerged as a powerful method for studying plant biology. Large image-based datasets are generated and analyzed with automated image analysis pipelines. A major challenge associated with these analyses is variation in image quality that can inadvertently bias results. Images are made up of tuples of data called pixels, which consist of R, G, and B values, arranged in a grid. Many factors, for example image brightness, can influence the quality of the image that is captured. These factors alter the values of the pixels within images and consequently can bias the data and downstream analyses. Here, we provide an automated method to adjust an image-based dataset so that brightness, contrast, and color profile is standardized. The correction method is a collection of linear models that adjusts pixel tuples based on a reference panel of colors. We apply this technique to a set of images taken in a high-Throughput imaging facility and successfully detect variance within the image dataset. In this case, variation resulted from temperature-dependent light intensity throughout the experiment. Using this correction method, we were able to standardize images throughout the dataset, and we show that this correction enhanced our ability to accurately quantify morphological measurements within each image. We implement this technique in a high-Throughput pipeline available with this paper, and it is also implemented in PlantCV.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5727
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2018


  • Image analysis
  • Image correction
  • Large-scale biology
  • Least-squares regression
  • Phenotyping


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