Applications of Micro-CT for Natural History Specimens

Syllis gracilis (a species of marine bioluminescent polychaete worms): false-colour volume rendering of virtually dissected proventricle. The length of the proventricle and the number of its muscle rows are important diagnostic systematic characters in the family. The strong muscle fibres of the proventricle are very visible, and through virtual dissection their three-dimensional arrangement as well as their number can be observed.

The advantages of micro-CT scans for studying functional morphology, taxonomy, evolutionary biology, and developmental research for natural history specimens are its non-destructive imaging and quantitative analysis capabilities. The use of micro-CT for these studies will enhance computer-accessible data production and subsequent larger-scale morphology-based phylogenies and semi-automated identifications. With increased research efforts in cybertaxonomy, and the creation of cybertypes using this data as virtual type material, micro-CT is useful in studying the morphological, anatomical, and molecular identity of natural history specimens. 

Micro-computed tomography: Introducing new dimensions to taxonomy

Morphology-based taxonomy is key to systematic research. Improvements in the resolution of 3D imaging have led to an increased application of micro-CT to taxonomic research. With increased research efforts in cybertaxonomy, and the creation of cybertypes using this data as virtual type material, micro-CT is useful in studying the morphological, anatomical, and molecular identity of natural history specimens. This paper “discusses the potential and the limitations of the technique for creating cybertypes. It also discusses the challenges that the community might face to establish virtual collections.”

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Micro-computed tomography for natural history specimens: a handbook of best practice protocols

Micro-CT is increasingly used in a variety of biological research fields: taxonomy and systematics; evolutionary and developmental research; and functional morphology. “The ability of micro-CT imaging to create accurate, virtual representations of both internal and external features of an object, at micrometer resolution, without destroying the specimen, makes the technique an interesting tool for the digitisation of valuable natural history collections. Digitisation efforts have become an important research activity of museums and herbaria, since collections represent a vast source of biodiversity information which is often underexploited due to the traditionally slow process of re-visiting physical specimens.” 

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Micro-CT vlab: A web based virtual gallery of biological specimens using X-ray microtomography (micro-CT)

This article discusses the Micro-CT vlab, which provides virtual image galleries of various taxa viewable online. Accurate, detailed 3D models of species can be studied and virtually dissected without destroying the actual specimen. “Online exploration and dissemination of micro-CT datasets are rarely made available to the public due to their large size and a lack of dedicated online platforms for the interactive manipulation of 3D data. Here, the development of a virtual micro-CT laboratory is described, which can be used by everyone who is interested in digitisation methods and biological collections and aims at making the micro-CT data exploration of natural history specimens freely available over the internet.” 

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Looking deep into nature: A review of micro-computed tomography in biomimicry

“Albert Einstein once said ‘look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’”. Looking deep into nature has become much more achievable through the use of micro-CT in the fields of biomimicry, biomimetic engineering, and bioinspiration. Micro-CT images and 3D data can be used as bio-inspiration, or may be used to reverse-engineer nature. This study shows “how microCT has been used in bio-inspiration and biomimetic studies, including investigations of multifunctional structures, hierarchical structures and the growing use of additive manufacturing and mechanical testing of 3D printed models in combination with microCT.”

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Related Articles:

Micro-CT Imaging of a Triggerfish

Micro-CT of a House Fly (Musca Domestica) Using the Bruker SkyScan 1272

MicroCT of a Leopard Skull

Micro-CT Applications for Digitizing Biological Specimens

Micro-CT Applications in Entomology

Applications of Micro-CT

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