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PeerJ. 2019 Aug 5;7:e7367. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7367. eCollection 2019.

Impact of digital video analytics on accuracy of chemobehavioural phenotyping in aquatic toxicology.

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School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
Biomedical Research Institute A Coruña (INIBIC), University Hospital Complex of A Coruña, Coruña, Spain.
Department of Computer Science, University of A Coruña, Spain.


Chemobehavioural phenotypic analysis using small aquatic model organisms is becoming an important toolbox in aquatic ecotoxicology and neuroactive drug discovery. The analysis of the organisms' behavior is usually performed by combining digital video recording with animal tracking software. This software detects the organisms in the video frames, and reconstructs their movement trajectory using image processing algorithms. In this work we investigated the impact of video file characteristics, video optimization techniques and differences in animal tracking algorithms on the accuracy of quantitative neurobehavioural endpoints. We employed larval stages of a free-swimming euryhaline crustacean Artemia franciscana,commonly used for marine ecotoxicity testing, as a proxy modelto assess the effects of video analytics on quantitative behavioural parameters. We evaluated parameters such as data processing speed, tracking precision, capability to perform high-throughput batch processing of video files. Using a model toxicant the software algorithms were also finally benchmarked against one another. Our data indicates that variability in video file parameters; such as resolution, frame rate, file containers types, codecs and compression levels, can be a source of experimental biases in behavioural analysis. Similarly, the variability in data outputs between different tracking algorithms should be taken into account when designing standardized behavioral experiments and conducting chemobehavioural phenotyping.


Animal; Behaviour; Phenomics; Toxicity; Tracking; Video

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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