Artificial intelligence can identify microscopic marine organisms

Tech Xplore | February 06, 2019

Researchers have developed artificial intelligence (AI) program that can automatically provide species-level identification of microscopic marine organisms. The next step is to incorporate the AI into a robotic system that will help advance our understanding of the world's oceans, both now and in our prehistoric past. Specifically, the AI program has proven capable of identifying six species of foraminifera, or forams – organisms that have been prevalent in Earth's oceans for more than 100 million years.
Forams are protists, neither plant nor animal. When they die, they leave behind their tiny shells, most less than a millimeter wide. These shells give scientists insights into the characteristics of the oceans as they existed when the forams were alive. For example, different types of foram species thrive in different kinds of ocean environments, and chemical measurements can tell scientists about everything from the ocean's chemistry to its temperature when the shell was being formed.

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