3D visualization of the microstructure of Quedius beesoni Cameron using micro-CT
The investigation of the internal morphology of insects is usually performed using classical microtomy yielding optical micrographs of stained thin sections. The achievement of high-quality cross sections for microtomy is time-consuming and the risk of damaging sections is unavoidable. Moreover, the approach is impractical, in particular when quick acquisition of 3D structural information is required. Recently, X-ray computed microtomography (micro-CT) with a high spatial resolution was considered as a potential tool for the morphological classification of insects. We used micro-CT to investigate Quedius beesoni Cameron at the cellular length scale. This method provides a new powerful and nondestructive approach to obtain 3D structural information on the biological organization of insects. The preliminary images presented in this contribution clearly reveal the endoskeleton and the muscles of the head and the thorax with a full 3D structure. We also reconstructed the 3D structure of the brain of Quedius beesoni Cameron, and this is the first reconstruction in Staphylinidae, which will be a great advancement for morphological and phylogenic research. We claim that both the spatial resolution and the contrast characteristic of micro-CT imaging may fulfill the requirements necessary for zoological insect morphology and phylogeny, in particular, when a classification of a rare and unique insect specimen is required.
KeywordsTomography Staphylinidae Morphology X-ray image
This work was partly supported by the National Outstanding Youth Fund (project no. 10125523 to Z.W.), the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KJCX2-YW-N42), the Key Important Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (10734070), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 10774144 and 10979055), and the National Basic Research Program of China (2009CB930804).
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