, Volume 226, Issue 3, pp 559-570
Date: 15 Mar 2007

Three-dimensional pore space quantification of apple tissue using X-ray computed microtomography

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Abstract

The microstructure and the connectivity of the pore space are important variables for better understanding of the complex gas transport phenomena that occur in plant tissues. In this study, we present an experimental procedure for image acquisition and image processing to quantitatively characterize in 3D the pore space of apple tissues (Malus domestica Borkh.) for two cultivars (Jonagold and Braeburn) taken from the fleshy part of the cortex using X-ray computer microtomography. Preliminary sensitivity analyses were performed to determine the effect of the resolution and the volume size (REV, representative elementary volume analysis) on the computed porosity of apple samples. For comparison among cultivars, geometrical properties such as porosity, specific surface area, number of disconnected pore volumes and their distribution parameters were extracted and analyzed in triplicate based on the 3D skeletonization of the pore space (medial axis analysis). The results showed that microtomography provides a resolution at the micrometer level to quantitatively analyze and characterize the 3D topology of the pore space in apple tissue. The computed porosity was confirmed to be highly dependent of the resolution used, and the minimum REV of the cortical flesh of apple fruit was estimated to be 1.3 mm3. Comparisons among the two cultivars using a resolution of 8.5 μm with a minimum REV cube showed that in spite of the complexity and variability of the pore space network observed in Jonagold and Braeburn apples, the extracted parameters from the medial axis were significantly different (P-value < 0.05). Medial axis parameters showed potential to differentiate the microstructure between the two evaluated apple cultivars.