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Visualizing wood anatomy in three dimensions with high-resolution X-ray micro-tomography (μCT) – A review

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Chapter Summary

High-resolution X-ray micro-tomography (µCT) has emerged as one of the most promising new tools available to wood anatomists to study the three-dimensional organization of xylem networks. A significant bottleneck in the µCT technique is image analysis. This technology generates thousands of images, and developing a strategy to efficiently analyze the data is a significant challenge. Advances in image processing also improve the overall quality of the images prior to analysis with the aim of reducing image noise while preserving the inherent structures in the images. Finally, the highly visual nature of this technique has obvious implications for teaching plant anatomy. The 3D representations of xylem organization make the complexity of xylem networks less intimidating and it is easy to see the spatial relationships between the different cell types. Instead of a two-dimensional image on a page, µCT brings the structures to life by giving them volume and form.

Keywords: High-resolution X-ray micro-tomography (µCT); image analysis; plant anatomy; wood anatomists; xylem networks



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