CT for trees? The serious science behind ‘limb’ imaging

Imaging is officially branching out into the world of botanical science.

For the first time, scientists have used imaging technology meant for humans—including MRI and CT scans—to observe the presence of “embolisms” in trees subjected to stress during draught conditions, according to a new study published in the Journal of Plant Physiology.

The research details how medical imaging techniques could allow for the study of plants at unprecedented resolution and time scales, said Brendan Choat, PhD, of the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment in Australia.

"By utilizing advanced imaging techniques, we can now accurately determine the health of trees and plants under threat, and put in place more effective measures to protect key crops and ecologically important species,” he told Phys.org. "Looking ahead, this breakthrough will increase the information available to farmers making costly decisions regarding crop plants, as well as feed into development of crop species with better drought tolerance."

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