Observing tiny insects
We can learn much about the universe and how it works just by looking at it.
One example of this is phenotyping - the manual process of observing an organism's characteristics using the human eye.
But insects are often miniscule, so their size and structure can be difficult and time consuming to measure accurately via phenotyping - even under magnification.
Exploring 3D imaging solutions
Imaging offers a way to automate parts of the phenotyping process.
Using imaging, an organism’s characteristics can be measured quickly and with less variation between measurements than when using manual methods.
3D images also allow specimens to be viewed from all angles.
While x-ray computer tomography (CT) is an effective imaging technology, it can only produce images in black and white. Meanwhile, other 3D capture systems struggle with small, detailed specimens.
This led us to explore and develop a new, cost-effective way for researchers to easily see minute details on micro-sized insects in full colour, 3D and high-definition.
Cost-effective, simple and quick
We've demonstrated what we believe to be the world's first system for capturing 3D models of tiny (3-30 mm) specimens in natural colour.
It's a cost-effective system that allows specimens to be more readily shared, analysed, annotated and compared.
The images produced are around 10 megabytes in size, enabling them to be viewed in a modern web browser with no additional software.
This technology will help the scientific and educational community learn more about insects and their impact on the environment.
It will assist in protecting Australia's natural environment, its multi-billion dollar agricultural industries and the health of its population against the threat of invasive insect species and the diseases that they carry.
It will also open up the possibilities of using 3D image libraries to quickly extract, analyse and share rich information to:
- support biodiversity discovery
- species identification
- quarantine control
- unlocking the value of biological collections around the world.