Micro-CT Applications for Digitizing Biological Specimens

(Above:) A neuropteran insect (genus Sisyra) showing musculature and general soft tissue morphology. Fixed in Bouin’s fluid and stained with I2E, scanned in ethanol. Virtual horizontal sections one voxel thick (top), and cutaway volume renderings (bottom). Muscles are especially clearly defined, and the complete penetration of iodine makes it more suitable than PTA or osmium for whole insect specimens. Scale bars, 100 μm. Samples from Dominique Zimmermann, Natural History Museum, Vienna. Voxel size 4.3 μm (head + thorax, left), 2.0 μm (head, right).

MicroCT for comparative morphology: simple staining methods allow high-contrast 3D imaging of diverse non-mineralized animal tissues

ABSTRACT

This study presents several staining methods for microCT imaging of animal soft tissues, in addition to advice on tissue fixation and sample preparation. Animal morphology studies require accurate visualization of 3D structures, Accurately aligned and calibrated volume images of animal structures are particularly important for quantitative studies. The study concludes, “With very simple contrast staining, microCT imaging can produce quantitative, high-resolution, high-contrast volume images of animal soft tissues, without destroying the specimens and with possibilities of combining with other preparation and imaging methods. Such images are expected to be useful in comparative, developmental, functional, and quantitative studies of morphology.”

READ MORE on using micro-CT for the morphological animal studies, from BMC Physiology.

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X‐ray computed tomography and its potential in ecological research: A review of studies and optimization of specimen preparation

ABSTRACT

“Imaging techniques are a cornerstone of contemporary biology. Over the last decades, advances in microscale imaging techniques have allowed fascinating new insights into cell and tissue morphology and internal anatomy of organisms across kingdoms.” This study offers an  overview of recent developments using micro-CT to obtain high resolution images, simply and affordably, allowing insights into 3D anatomy both in vivo and ex vivo.

READ MORE on the use of micro-CT for ecological research, from Ecology and Evolution.

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

ABSTRACT

“This  handbook serves as a comprehensive guide to laboratory micro-CT imaging of different types of natural history specimens, including zoological, botanical, palaeontological and geological samples.”  Efforts to digitize natural specimens are  an  important  research  activity  of  museums, because  collections  comprise  a  large  source of biodiversity information that is often underutilized due to the slow process of actually visiting physical specimens. Now, digital specimens are available worldwide and “have the potential to accelerate taxonomic and systematic research and allow for large-scale comparative morphological studies.”

READ MORE on using micro-CT for natural history specimens, from the European Journal of Taxonomy.

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Related Article: X-ray Microscopic Inspection of Insect Flight Muscles

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