Microscopic Image Processing for the Analysis of Nosema Disease

Microscopic Image Processing for the Analysis of Nosema Disease

Soumaya Dghim (Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain), Carlos M. Travieso-Gonzalez (Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain), Mohamed Salah Gouider (Université de Tunis, Tunisia), Melvin Ramírez Bogantes (Costa Rica Institute of Technology, Costa Rica), Rafael A. Calderon (National University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica), Juan Pablo Prendas-Rojas (Costa Rica Institute of Technology, Costa Rica) and Geovanni Figueroa-Mata (Costa Rica Institute of Technology, Costa Rica)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6316-7.ch002


In this chapter, the authors tried to develop a tool to automatize and facilitate the detection of Nosema disease. This work develops new technologies in order to solve one of the bottlenecks found on the analysis bee population. The images contain various objects; moreover, this work will be structured on three main steps. The first step is focused on the detection and study of the objects of interest, which are Nosema cells. The second step is to study others' objects in the images: extract characteristics. The last step is to compare the other objects with Nosema. The authors can recognize their object of interest, determining where the edges of an object are, counting similar objects. Finally, the authors have images that contain only their objects of interest. The selection of an appropriate set of features is a fundamental challenge in pattern recognition problems, so the method makes use of segmentation techniques and computer vision. The authors believe that the attainment of this work will facilitate the diary work in many laboratories and provide measures that are more precise for biologists.
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Nowadays, microscopic image analysis has become increasingly important for the recognition and classification of diseases. Several tools are available to process and analyze images in the medical and biological fields, but their relevance cannot adapt with certain problems.

Diagnosis is one of the most commonly used methods in the verification of contagious diseases in food producing animals such as bees, and has always been the most important. This method makes it possible to test and analyze the key characteristics and then define the disease by providing the necessary information on its type and classification. In the late 1990s, Nosemosis, a parasitic disease, affected European and Asian bee populations. Nosema Apis (N. Apis) was the most likely cause of Nosema. Biologists have devoted many of their studies that treat the disease and describe its molecular and genetic characteristics.

Honeybees are very important for the honey they produce and for their vital role as agricultural pollinators. Biologists considered that the human diet can be directly related to bee pollination, also they estimated the economic value of pollination to several billion dollars (“Colony Collapse”, 2009; “Bee Mortality”, 2008), and furthermore, they considered the honeybee health a great impact on economy and biodiversity worldwide.

Honeybees (Apismellifera) are social insects, which form colonies composed of three classes of individuals: the queen, thousands of workers and, when there is greater nectar flow, several hundred drones. The colony population can vary between 30,000 to 60,000 individuals, depending on the time of year, with each individual performing a specific function (Espina et al, 1984). The queen is the only fertile female of the hive, her main function being egg laying. The workers are in charge of feeding the young, building honeycombs, protecting and defending the hive, and collecting food, among other functions. The drones participate mainly in the fertilization of the queen and in maintaining the internal temperature of the hive (Crane, 1990).

The breeding and management of honeybees is known as “Beekeeping”, an activity practiced almost anywhere in the world with a great ecological and socioeconomic importance. Different products are obtained from beekeeping: honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, wax, venom, among others. However, the main benefit of bees is the pollination of different plant species, including forest trees, which ensures their reproduction. They also participate in the pollination of agricultural crops (Sanchez et al, 2009). It is estimated that about 30% of the food consumed by the world population is derived from bee-pollinated crops (Slaa et al, 2006). Therefore, the conservation of these insects is vital for the productivity of agricultural systems and the dynamics of ecosystems (Melendez et al, 2008).

Mellifera bees are affected by different etiological agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. More than 35 diseases associated with this bee species have been described and most of them cause considerable damage to world beekeeping (Ritter, 2001). According to Calderón and Sánchez (2001), the diseases with the highest prevalence in honeybee hives in Costa Rica are European locha, Varroasis (parasitoids caused by the Varroa destructor mite) and Nosemosis (caused by the Microsporidium Nosema spp.).

Nosemosis,Nosemiasis or Nosematosisisconsidered one of the diseases of major economic impact worldwide. (Calderon et al, 2010) This disease can be caused by two species of microsporidia, Nosemaapis and Nosemaceranae (Microspora, Nosematidae), which form spores and infect the intestinal epithelial cells of adult bees (Traver et al, 2011; Bravo et al, 2014). Previously, Nosemosis in A. mellifera bees was considered strictly caused by N. apis (see Figure 1), while the Asian bee A. cerana was infected by N. ceranae (see Figure 2).

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