Automated staging of zebrafish embryos with deep learning

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The zebrafish Danio rerio is an important biomedical model organism used in many disciplines. The phenomenon of developmental delay in zebrafish embryos has been widely reported as part of a mutant or treatment-induced phenotype. However, the detection and quantification of these delays is often achieved through manual observation, which is both time-consuming and subjective. We present KimmelNet, a deep learning model trained to predict embryo age (hours post fertilisation) from 2D brightfield images. KimmelNet’s predictions agree closely with established staging methods and can detect developmental delays between populations with high confidence using as few as 100 images. Moreover, KimmelNet generalises to previously unseen data, with transfer learning enhancing its performance. With the ability to analyse tens of thousands of standard brightfield microscopy images on a timescale of minutes, we envisage that KimmelNet will be a valuable resource for the developmental biology community. Furthermore, the approach we have used could easily be adapted to generate models for other organisms.

Journal details

Volume 7
Issue number 1
Pages e202302351
Available online
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Crick labs/facilities

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