X-ray Microscopic Examination of a Beetle

Rendered view of a desiccated beetle

Beetles are the largest insect order, with Tribolium castaneum as the first species with a completely sequenced genome; beetles may now be new candidates for model organisms in various studies. Almost a quarter of all known types of animals are beetles, with approximately 400,000 species constituting almost 25% of all known animals and occupying most environments on the planet. Micro-CT is a key tool for future research on beetles to increase our knowledge of the functioning of insect organisms and to help provide significant practical implications for biomedical applications, environmental monitoring, and/or food production.

X-Ray Microscopic Imaging of a Beetle

This month we imaged a beetle using the SkyScan 1275 high-speed desktop micro-CT. Our most straightforward and easiest instrument to use, the SkyScan 1275 is a great match for quickly imaging small samples like beetles and other insects.

Figure 2: Planar 2D views of the beetle dataset

As shown in Figure 2, the SkyScan 1275 micro-CT captured the fine internal structures of organs and muscles with an isotropic voxel size of 15 µm.  A high-density substance appears to be present in the abdomen of the beetle based on the saturated brightness of this region.

Figure 3: Volumetric Maximum Intensity Projection 3D rendering of the beetle

When looking through the 3D view of the beetle, we can utilize a maximum intensity projection (MIP) view to highlight the densest regions of the sample (Figure 3). In this case, the densest regions are the muscle structures in the torso and the contaminant within the abdomen of the specimen.

Figure 4: Clipped volumetric 3D rendering of the beetle

In examining the internal morphometry of the beetle, the SkyScan 1275 did an excellent job at highlighting individual structures from the internal anatomy of the specimen (Figure 4). For specific regions of interest, the dataset could be pared down further to isolate any points of interest.


The SkyScan 1275 is an extremely capable instrument at our lowest entry cost and excels for high-speed imaging of many samples. While other instruments within our portfolio may offer improved resolution, the SkyScan 1275 also offers high resolution, powerful datasets for many sample types.

We hope you found this Image of the Month informative and encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter and social media channels in preparation for the continuation of our Image of the Month series next month.

Scan Specifications

Sample Beetle
Voltage (kV) 30
Current (µA) 150
Filter None
Pixel Size (µm) 15
Rotation Step 0.2
Exposure Time (ms) 350
Rotation Extent (deg.) 360
Scan Time (HH:MM:SS) 02:50:12


These scans were completed on our high-speed desktop SkyScan 1275 micro-CT system at the Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory in Allentown, PA. Reconstructions were completed using NRecon 2.0 while visualization and volumetric inspection of the 2D and 3D results were completed using DataViewer and CTVox.

Would you like your work to be featured in our monthly newsletter? If so, please contact us by calling Seth Hogg at 610-366-7103 or e-mailing seth.hogg@microphotonics.com.

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