Oral Presentation Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Australasia 2021

Faster, better, later. Automated image processing for improved laboratory workflows. (#147)

Chris Williams 1 , Michelle (Shelley) Templeman 1
  1. James Cook University, Douglas, QLD, Australia

ImageJ is a powerful, public domain, image processing program. It offers wide functionality to all manner of scientific enquiry including discrimination of pre-defined image features and associated ability to provide counts and area measurements. With a little bit of customisation, this functionality can be greatly extended to better manage laboratory workflows that are time sensitive, repetitive, strenuous, or otherwise constrained by people, equipment or budgets.  The in-built programming capability allows rapid automation of visual processing tasks, and hours once spent on a microscope can become minutes on a computer. This approach is underpinned by a shift in focus from real-time visual processing by eye to real-time photography and post-processing by ImageJ macros. However associated benefits include a permanent photographic record of the endpoint being measured, removal of time-consuming measurement processes from critical path workflows, easy replication and cross checks of measures that avoid any potential human bias, multi-spectral interpretation, and the ability for rapid visual quality assurance checks on large datasets. Potential applications include any workflows with repeated measurement requirements including cell counts, eco-toxicological studies, growth assessments and macro-invertebrate identifications. Video processing capabilities are now being extended to aquatic community assessments in environments where other more traditional techniques are not safe.