Comparison of supervised machine learning algorithms for waterborne pathogen detection using mobile phone fluorescence microscopy

Hatice Ceylan Koydemir, Steve Feng, Kyle Liang, Rohan Nadkarni, Parul Benien, Aydogan Ozcan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Giardia lamblia is a waterborne parasite that affects millions of people every year worldwide, causing a diarrheal illness known as giardiasis. Timely detection of the presence of the cysts of this parasite in drinking water is important to prevent the spread of the disease, especially in resource-limited settings. Here we provide extended experimental testing and evaluation of the performance and repeatability of a field-portable and cost-effective microscopy platform for automated detection and counting of Giardia cysts in water samples, including tap water, non-potable water, and pond water. This compact platform is based on our previous work, and is composed of a smartphone-based fluorescence microscope, a disposable sample processing cassette, and a custom-developed smartphone application. Our mobile phone microscope has a large field of view of ~0.8 cm2 and weighs only ~180 g, excluding the phone. A custom-developed smartphone application provides a user-friendly graphical interface, guiding the users to capture a fluorescence image of the sample filter membrane and analyze it automatically at our servers using an image processing algorithm and training data, consisting of >30,000 images of cysts and >100,000 images of other fluorescent particles that are captured, including, e.g. dust. The total time that it takes from sample preparation to automated cyst counting is less than an hour for each 10 ml of water sample that is tested. We compared the sensitivity and the specificity of our platform using multiple supervised classification models, including support vector machines and nearest neighbors, and demonstrated that a bootstrap aggregating (i.e. bagging) approach using raw image file format provides the best performance for automated detection of Giardia cysts. We evaluated the performance of this machine learning enabled pathogen detection device with water samples taken from different sources (e.g. tap water, non-potable water, pond water) and achieved a limit of detection of 12 cysts per 10 ml, an average cyst capture efficiency of ~79%, and an accuracy of ~95%. Providing rapid detection and quantification of waterborne pathogens without the need for a microbiology expert, this field-portable imaging and sensing platform running on a smartphone could be very useful for water quality monitoring in resource-limited settings.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-741
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 14 2017
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of supervised machine learning algorithms for waterborne pathogen detection using mobile phone fluorescence microscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this