Journal article
Evaluation of contrasting techniques for X-ray imaging of velvet worms (Onychophora)

Publication Details
Jahn, H.; de Sena Oliveira, I.; Oliveira, I.; Gross, V.; Martin, C.; Hipp, A.; Mayer, G.; Hammel, J.
Publication year:
Journal of Microscopy
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Non-invasive imaging techniques like X-ray computed tomography have become very popular in zoology, as they allow for simultaneous imaging of the internal and external morphology of organisms. Nevertheless, the effect of different staining approaches required for this method on samples lacking mineralized tissues, such as soft-bodied invertebrates, remains understudied. Herein, we used synchrotron radiation-based X-ray micro-computed tomography to compare the effects of commonly used contrasting approaches on onychophorans - soft-bodied invertebrates important for studying animal evolution. Representatives of Euperipatoides rowelli were stained with osmium tetroxide (vapour or solution), ruthenium red, phosphotungstic acid, or iodine. Unstained specimens were imaged using both standard attenuation-based and differential phase-contrast setups to simulate analyses with museum material. Our comparative qualitative analyses of several tissue types demonstrate that osmium tetroxide provides the best overall tissue contrast in onychophorans, whereas the remaining staining agents rather favour the visualisation of specific tissues and/or structures. Quantitative analyses using signal-to-noise ratio measurements show that the level of image noise may vary according to the staining agent and scanning medium selected. Furthermore, box-and-whisker plots revealed substantial overlap in grey values among structures in all datasets, suggesting that a combination of semiautomatic and manual segmentation of structures is required for comprehensive 3D reconstructions of Onychophora, irrespective of the approach selected. Our results show that X-ray micro-computed tomography is a promising technique for studying onychophorans and, despite the benefits and disadvantages of different staining agents for specific tissues/structures, this method retrieves informative data that may eventually help address evolutionary questions long associated with Onychophora.

Last updated on 2020-23-03 at 12:00

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