High-throughput time-stretch imaging flow cytometry for multi-class classification of phytoplankton


Time-stretch imaging has been regarded as an attractive technique for high-throughput imaging flow cytometry primarily owing to its real-time, continuous ultrafast operation. Nevertheless, two key challenges remain: (1) sufficiently high time-stretch image resolution and contrast is needed for visualizing sub-cellular complexity of single cells, and (2) the ability to unravel the heterogeneity and complexity of the highly diverse population of cells – a central problem of single-cell analysis in life sciences – is required. We here demonstrate an optofluidic time-stretch imaging flow cytometer that enables these two features, in the context of high-throughput multi-class (up to 14 classes) phytoplantkton screening and classification. Based on the comprehensive feature extraction and selection procedures, we show that the intracellular texture/morphology, which is revealed by high-resolution time-stretch imaging, plays a critical role of improving the accuracy of phytoplankton classification, as high as 94.7%, based on multi-class support vector machine (SVM). We also demonstrate that high-resolution time-stretch images, which allows exploitation of various feature domains, e.g. Fourier space, enables further sub-population identification – paving the way toward deeper learning and classification based on large-scale single-cell images. Not only applicable to biomedical diagnostic, this work is anticipated to find immediate applications in marine and biofuel research.

Optics Express
Hayden Kwok-Hay So
Hayden Kwok-Hay So
Associate Professor