Artificial Intelligence Meets Marine Ecotoxicology: Applying Deep Learning to Bio-Optical Data from Marine Diatoms Exposed to Legacy and Emerging Contaminants

Biology (Basel). 2021 Sep 18;10(9):932. doi: 10.3390/biology10090932.


Over recent decades, the world has experienced the adverse consequences of uncontrolled development of multiple human activities. In recent years, the total production of chemicals has been composed of environmentally harmful compounds, the majority of which have significant environmental impacts. These emerging contaminants (ECs) include a wide range of man-made chemicals (such as pesticides, cosmetics, personal and household care products, pharmaceuticals), which are of worldwide use. Among these, several ECs raised concerns regarding their ecotoxicological effects and how to assess them efficiently. This is of particular interest if marine diatoms are considered as potential target species, due to their widespread distribution, being the most abundant phytoplankton group in the oceans, and also being responsible for key ecological roles. Bio-optical ecotoxicity methods appear as reliable, fast, and high-throughput screening (HTS) techniques, providing large datasets with biological relevance on the mode of action of these ECs in phototrophic organisms, such as diatoms. However, from the large datasets produced, only a small amount of data are normally extracted for physiological evaluation, leaving out a large amount of information on the ECs exposure. In the present paper, we use all the available information and evaluate the application of several machine learning and deep learning algorithms to predict the exposure of model organisms to different ECs under different doses, using a model marine diatom (Phaeodactylum tricornutum) as a test organism. The results show that 2D convolutional neural networks are the best method to predict the type of EC to which the cultures were exposed, achieving a median accuracy of 97.65%, while Rocket is the best at predicting which concentration the cultures were subjected to, achieving a median accuracy of 100%.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; deep learning; estuarine systems; eutrophication; machine learning; time series classification; water contamination.