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Automated Image Analysis of the Severity of Foliar Citrus Canker Symptoms

June 2009 , Volume 93 , Number  6
Pages  660 - 665

C. H. Bock, University of Florida/USDA-ARS-USHRL, 2001 S. Rock Rd., Ft. Pierce, FL 34945; A. Z. Cook and P. E. Parker, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, Moore Air Base, Edinburg, TX 78539; and T. R. Gottwald, USDA-ARS-USHRL, 2001 S. Rock Rd., Ft. Pierce, FL 34945

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Accepted for publication 6 March 2009.

Citrus canker (caused by Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri) is a destructive disease, reducing yield and rendering fruit unfit for fresh sale. Accurate assessment of citrus canker severity and other diseases is needed for several purposes, including monitoring epidemics and evaluation of germplasm. We compared measurements of citrus canker severity (percent area infected) from automated image analysis to visual estimates by raters and true values using images from five leaf samples (65, 123, 50, 50, and 200 leaves; disease severity from 0 to 60%). Severity on leaves was measured by automated image analysis by (i) basing threshold values on a presample of leaves, or (ii) replacing healthy leaf color on a leaf-by-leaf basis before automating image analysis. Samples 1 to 4 were assessed by three trained plant pathologists, and sample 5 was assessed by an additional 25 raters. Healthy leaf area color replacement gave the most consistent agreement with the true severity data. Using color replacement, agreement with true values based on Lin's concordance correlation coefficient (ρc) was 0.93, 0.79, 0.71, 0.85, and 0.89 for each of the samples, respectively. The range and consistency of agreement was generally less good for automated thresholds based on a presample (ρc = 0.35--0.90) or visual raters (ρc = 0.30--0.94). The constituents of agreement (precision and accuracy) showed similar trends. No one rater or method was best for every leaf sample, but replacing healthy color in each leaf with a standard color before automation of image analysis improved agreement, and was relatively quick (20 s per image). The accuracy and precision of automated image analysis of citrus canker severity can be comparable to unaided, direct visual estimation by many raters.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2009