Weakly Supervised Cell-Instance Segmentation With Two Types of Weak Labels by Single Instance Pasting
Cell instance segmentation that recognizes each cell boundary is an important task in cell image analysis. While deep learning-based methods have shown promising performances with a certain amount of training data, most of them require full annotations that show the boundary of each cell. Generating the annotation for cell segmentation is time-consuming and human labor. To reduce the annotation cost, we propose a weakly supervised segmentation method using two types of weak labels (one for cell type and one for nuclei position). Unlike general images, these two labels are easily obtained in phase-contrast images. The intercellular boundary, which is necessary for cell instance segmentation, cannot be directly obtained from these two weak labels, so to generate the boundary information, we propose a single instance pasting based on the copy-and-paste technique. First, we locate single-cell regions by counting cells and store them in a pool. Then, we generate the intercellular boundary by pasting the stored single-cell regions to the original image. Finally, we train a boundary estimation network with the generated labels and perform instance segmentation with the network. Our evaluation on a public dataset demonstrated that the proposed method achieves the best performance among the several weakly supervised methods we compared.