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Microcomputer-Based Quantification of Maize Streak Virus Symptoms in Zea mays

May 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  5
Pages  422 - 427

Darrin P. Martin and Edward P. Rybicki

Microbiology Department, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch, Western Cape, South Africa 7701

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Accepted for publication 20 January 1998.

We investigated the use of computer-assisted image analysis techniques for the objective quantification of maize streak virus (MSV) symptoms in Zea mays. We compared independent duplicate evaluations of chlorotic lesion areas occurring on MSV-infected leaves using visual assessment, a commercial image analysis system, and a custom image analysis system employing software developed in our laboratory. Relative to visual assessments of disease severity, computer-assisted image analysis employing both the commercial and custom systems provided significant enhancements in the accuracy and precision of chlorotic area estimations. The commercial image analysis system afforded no significant improvement in precision or accuracy over the custom system. An important advantage of examining images using the custom-written software was that the software permitted a high degree of analysis automation. Digitized images of maize leaves could be automatically analyzed by the custom software five times faster than, and with the same precision and accuracy as, when the same images were analyzed with the commercial software. Because of the flexibility of the image analysis techniques described, they should be applicable to the measurement of symptom severity in other plant host-pathogen combinations.

Additional keywords: disease assessment reliability , leaf tracing , pixel thresholding , source code .

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society