Quantifying fungal infection of plant leaves by digital image analysis using Scion Image Software
A digital image analysis method previously used to evaluate leaf color changes due to nutritional changes was modified to measure the severity of several foliar fungal diseases. Images captured with a flatbed scanner or digital camera were analyzed with a freely available software package, Scion Image, to measure changes in leaf color caused by fungal sporulation or tissue damage. High correlations were observed between the percent diseased leaf area estimated by Scion Image analysis and the percent diseased leaf area from leaf drawings. These drawings of various foliar diseases came from a disease key previously developed to aid in visual estimation of disease severity. For leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana inoculated with different spore concentrations of the anthracnose fungus Colletotrichum destructivum, a high correlation was found between the percent diseased tissue measured by Scion Image analysis and the number of leaf spots. The method was adapted to quantify percent diseased leaf area ranging from 0 to 90% for anthracnose of lily-ofthe-valley, apple scab, powdery mildew of phlox and rust of golden rod. In some cases, the brightness and contrast of the images were adjusted and other modifications were made, but these were standardized for each disease. Detached leaves were used with the flatbed scanner, but a method using attached leaves with a digital camera was also developed to make serial measurements of individual leaves to quantify symptom progression. This was successfully applied to monitor anthracnose on N. benthamiana leaves. Digital image analysis using Scion Image software is a useful tool for quantifying a wide variety of fungal interactions with plant leaves.