Micro-CT Applications in Entomology

February 2018: Micro-CT Applications in Entomology

The following articles illustrate benefits in using micro-CT for studying ant taxonomy and biodiversity, as well as for morphological documentation. Also included is an article on using micro-Ct for scanning live insects.


CREDIT: Presentations of T. balrog sp. n.: Montage light microscopy image (A), virtual 3D model (B), 3D printed model (C). Francisco Hita Garcia, et al, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit.

X-Ray microtomography for ant taxonomy

This in-depth exploration of the potential of X-ray micro-CT for the field of ant taxonomy discusses the transformations in the discipline of taxonomy from the traditional morphology-based approach using written descriptions and line drawings to a complementary mixture of various types of data, including interactive and 3D imagery available through micro-CT scanning (micro computed tomography). This study focuses on the description of two morphologically exceptional new species of Terataner that have been separated from a larger-scale revision of the whole genus in order to test and discuss the applicability of micro-CT for ant taxonomy. Read more about the original study in the article below from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in India.

CLICK HERE to read the full article on micro-CT for ant taxonomy from PLOS.

3D ants: adding a third dimension to species documentation

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in India has identified two new ant species from the Andaman Islands, using micro-CT 3D imaging for morphology. Gaurav Agavekar studied the biotic and abiotic factors that are important in shaping ant community structure and teamed up with Evan Economo and Francisco Hita Garcia from the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology to construct 3D surface models of the holotypes of the new species. Despite their important roles in the ecosystem, ant biodiversity in many tropical areas remains poorly documented. With 3D reconstructions, researchers can virtually rotate, measure, section, and dissect for in-depth examination of morphological characters that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to achieve. An in-depth discussion of the use of micro-CT for ant taxonomy is presented above.

CLICK HERE to read the full article on new ant species from PubMed.

Micro-CT imaging of live insects

An interdisciplinary team of biologists and imaging specialists from Western University in London, Canada has developed a micro-CT method that offers an unprecedented new way of viewing insect development. Using carbon dioxide to place insects in a state of temporary suspended animation, the team has created spectacularly detailed, 3D views of insects’ insides—without harming them in any way. Standard techniques involved using dead insects or killing them during the imaging process but left crucial gaps in scientists’ understanding. The researchers wanted to move beyond snapshots to dynamic images of insects’ internal development.

CLICK HERE to read the full article from BMC Zoology.

Blowflies use drool for evaporative cooling

Micro-CT scanning reveals a droplet in the throat-like passage near the brain of the big-eyed Chrysomya megacephala (blowfly), which appears to be part of a process blowflies used to cool themselves. By emitting a droplet of saliva, allowing it to hang in the air to lose heat, and retracting it to cool the body, the blowfly is able to reduce its body temperature four degrees Celsius below ambient temps. In most insects evaporative cooling is constrained by their impermeable exoskeleton. Their small size makes them especially susceptible to heat gain, so the blowfly has developed this novel thermoregulatory behavior. Denis Andrade from São Paulo State University’s Department of Zoology reported on the phenomenon at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

CLICK HERE to read the full article from Science News.

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