Micro-CT of a Rose

Roses have long captivated our hearts and minds, but the very transience and fragility of the flowers make them more difficult to study. The flower, the place where all new roses begin, is the reproductive structure of the plant. Rose flowers are fairly typical of most flowering plants, which are the most diverse group of plants on Earth, including almost all the plant species used by humans for food, medicine, and many other purposes. While botany is one of the oldest branches of science, modern botany today incorporates research in areas as diverse as the study of plant structure and biochemistry to molecular genetics and environmental management.

Flowers present a unique challenge for micro-CT scanning since, over time, they can either open up from bud form or wilt if left without water for too long. Micro-CT works best when the sample is exactly the same in the beginning of the scan as it is at the end; a change in the position of a single petal can adversely affect the quality of the scan. In order to get a good result, a micro-CT system has to have the resolution to capture the thin, fragile petals and also be fast enough to prevent the sample—the rose in this case—from changing its shape over time.

We had previously scanned a rose on our Bruker SkyScan 1173 and wanted to revisit the application with our fast Bruker SkyScan 1275. The two systems share some similarities, but the 1275 has a thicker scintillator, which allows it to complete scans more quickly than most other micro-CT systems on the market.


Figure 1: Rose stem and blossom mounted within the Bruker SkyScan 1275.

The rose stem and blossom was placed in a tube with water at the bottom so it could maintain turgor pressure. The top of the tube was wrapped in parafilm to stop the water from evaporating as well as to secure the rose in place while it rotated during the scan.

The rose was we selected was 65mm tall and 80mm in diameter. It was scanned using the detector in its 1x1k setting and also in the 2x2k setting to explore the affect of the additional time and additional resolution on the results. The 1k scan used pixel sizes of 100 micrometers and took only five minutes to perform. The 2k scan used a pixel size of 50 micrometers and took 23 minutes to perform.  Neither scan showed significant amounts of movement during the scan. The 2k had a slight movement at the bottom of the rose but none in the main part of the flower.

Below are cross-sections from each scan that demonstrate the capabilities of the SkyScan 1275 micro-CT to scan flowers and other delicate objects.

Figure 2: Rose, 1k scan
Figure 3: Rose, 2k scan
Figure 4: Rose, 2k scan

The 3D movies created in CTVox of the 2k micro-CT scan reflect the beauty of the rose and the ability of the Bruker micro-CT systems to capture that beauty in 3D. The five minute scan shows that the 1275 can quickly capture a scan of relatively low dense, fine material, such as a rose, showing that scans don’t always need to be hours long in order to capture the detail required for a particular study.

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