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Trends Plant Sci. 2003 Jan;8(1):2-6.

Three-dimensional analysis of plant structure using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography.

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  • 1Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Seed Conservation Department, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, West Sussex RH7 6TN, UK.


High-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRCT) is a non-invasive approach to 3D visualization and quantification of biological structure. The data, based on differential X-ray attenuation, are analogous to those otherwise obtainable only by serial sectioning. Requiring no fixing, sectioning or staining, HRCT produces a 3D digital map of the specimen that allows measurements and visualizations, including arbitrarily oriented sections. In spite of its application throughout the natural sciences, HRCT has yet to be applied in extant plant structural research.

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