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This article is part of the supplement: Eleventh International Conference on Bioinformatics (InCoB2012): Bioinformatics

Open Access Open Badges Proceedings

A preliminary study on automated freshwater algae recognition and classification system

Mogeeb AA Mosleh1*, Hayat Manssor2, Sorayya Malek2*, Pozi Milow2 and Aishah Salleh2

Author Affiliations

1 Artificial Intelligent Department, Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Institute of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13(Suppl 17):S25  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S17-S25

Published: 13 December 2012



Freshwater algae can be used as indicators to monitor freshwater ecosystem condition. Algae react quickly and predictably to a broad range of pollutants. Thus they provide early signals of worsening environment. This study was carried out to develop a computer-based image processing technique to automatically detect, recognize, and identify algae genera from the divisions Bacillariophyta, Chlorophyta and Cyanobacteria in Putrajaya Lake. Literature shows that most automated analyses and identification of algae images were limited to only one type of algae. Automated identification system for tropical freshwater algae is even non-existent and this study is partly to fill this gap.


The development of the automated freshwater algae detection system involved image preprocessing, segmentation, feature extraction and classification by using Artificial neural networks (ANN). Image preprocessing was used to improve contrast and remove noise. Image segmentation using canny edge detection algorithm was then carried out on binary image to detect the algae and its boundaries. Feature extraction process was applied to extract specific feature parameters from algae image to obtain some shape and texture features of selected algae such as shape, area, perimeter, minor and major axes, and finally Fourier spectrum with principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to extract some of algae feature texture. Artificial neural network (ANN) is used to classify algae images based on the extracted features. Feed-forward multilayer perceptron network was initialized with back propagation error algorithm, and trained with extracted database features of algae image samples. System's accuracy rate was obtained by comparing the results between the manual and automated classifying methods. The developed system was able to identify 93 images of selected freshwater algae genera from a total of 100 tested images which yielded accuracy rate of 93%.


This study demonstrated application of automated algae recognition of five genera of freshwater algae. The result indicated that MLP is sufficient, and can be used for classification of freshwater algae. However for future studies, application of support vector machine (SVM) and radial basis function (RBF) should be considered for better classifying as the number of algae species studied increases.