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Background: Plankton, including phytoplankton and zooplankton, are the main source of food for organisms in the ocean and form the base of marine food chain. As the fundamental components of marine ecosystems, plankton is very sensitive to environment changes, and the study of plankton abundance and distribution is crucial, in order to understand environment changes and protect marine ecosystems. This study was carried out to develop an extensive applicable plankton classification system with high accuracy for the increasing number of various imaging devices. Literature shows that most plankton image classification systems were limited to only one specific imaging device and a relatively narrow taxonomic scope. The real practical system for automatic plankton classification is even non-existent and this study is partly to fill this gap. Results: Inspired by the analysis of literature and development of technology, we focused on the requirements of practical application and proposed an automatic system for plankton image classification combining multiple view features via multiple kernel learning (MKL). For one thing, in order to describe the biomorphic characteristics of plankton more completely and comprehensively, we combined general features with robust features, especially by adding features like Inner-Distance Shape Context for morphological representation. For another, we divided all the features into different types from multiple views and feed them to multiple classifiers instead of only one by combining different kernel matrices computed from different types of features optimally via multiple kernel learning. Moreover, we also applied feature selection method to choose the optimal feature subsets from redundant features for satisfying different datasets from different imaging devices. We implemented our proposed classification system on three different datasets across more than 20 categories from phytoplankton to zooplankton. The experimental results validated that our system outperforms state-of-the-art plankton image classification systems in terms of accuracy and robustness. Conclusions: This study demonstrated automatic plankton image classification system combining multiple view features using multiple kernel learning. The results indicated that multiple view features combined by NLMKL using three kernel functions (linear, polynomial and Gaussian kernel functions) can describe and use information of features better so that achieve a higher classification accuracy.
Zheng, H., Wang, R., Yu, Z., Wang, N., Gu, Z., & Zheng, B. (2017). Automatic plankton image classification combining multiple view features via multiple kernel learning. BMC Bioinformatics, 18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12859-017-1954-8