Tag Archives: imaging

Spot the nutrients

Tri-colour map of: Fe (red), Cu (green) and Zn (blue) in a grain of barley.
Tri-colour map of: Fe (red), Cu (green) and Zn (blue) in a grain of barley.

South Australian researchers are using the Australian Synchrotron in their work on how to increase levels of iron and other micronutrients in staple grains such as rice and barley. The intense X-rays of the synchrotron can pinpoint where in the grain those micronutrients are found.

One third of the world’s population suffers from iron deficiency. One of the reasons for this is that more than three-quarters of the iron in rice is lost when the outer layers of the grain are removed during milling.

Enzo Lombi and Erica Donner from the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation at the University of South Australia are using the x-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) beam to probe grains of rice, barley and other staple grains that have been designed to boost levels of key micronutrients like iron.

The researchers use the intense synchrotron light to produce images showing concentrations of elements, like iron, copper, zinc and selenium.

One of the new plants they are studying is a strain of rice that has multiple copies of the gene for nicotianamine, which is involved in the long-distance transport of iron. The idea is that more iron will be moved into the inner layers of the rice grain.

The technique used by Enzo and Erica is the only one sensitive enough to determine the chemical form of these elements at the low levels found in cereal grains. It will show how much of the iron will be available when it reaches the consumer.

Photo: Tri-colour map of: Fe (red), Cu (green) and Zn (blue) in a grain of barley.
Credit: Enzo Lombi

Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, Enzo Lombi, Tel: +61 8 830 26267, Enzo.Lombi@unisa.edu.au

Seeing fish through rocks

Dr Kate Trinajstic has used synchrotron light and CT scanning to see through rock, in the process discovering how ancient fish developed teeth, jaws and even a womb. Her work is increasing our understanding of how life on Earth evolved.

Seeing fish through rocks
The winner of the 2010 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year, Kate Trinajstic. Credit: Ron D’Raine
About 380 million years ago in what is now the Kimberley Ranges in Western Australia, a vast barrier reef formed. In what would have been the inter-reef basins, large numbers of fish were buried relatively intact. Protective limestone balls formed around them and preserved them. When these balls are treated with acetic acid, the main component of vinegar, the surrounding rock dissolves, leaving only fossilised fish bones.

But in the course of studying hundreds of these dissolving balls, Kate began to see what looked like muscle fibres between the bones. She was eventually able to convince her colleagues that irreplaceable soft tissue detail was being lost in the acid treatments.
Continue reading Seeing fish through rocks

Two steps forward for cancer detection

An Australian invention is making it cheaper, quicker and safer to manufacture the radioactive tracers used in latest medical imaging techniques to track down increasingly smaller clusters of cancer cells.

Two steps forward for cancer detection
The two-step dual reactor, FlexLAB. Credit: iPHASE Technologies

Like preparing a cake in a mixing bowl, the chemical reactions to make the tracers involve putting the ingredients together in the right proportions. The next generation of tracers can have a more complex recipe—and so can be more difficult to produce using just one ‘mixing bowl’ at a time.
Continue reading Two steps forward for cancer detection

Unmasking melanoma early

There’s a new diagnostic tool being developed to target melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer with which more than 10,000 Australians are diagnosed each year.

Unmasking melanoma early
The red arrows show a melanoma tumour. The PET/CT scan on the right shows how the MEL050 tracer highlights the location, size and spread of melanoma. Credit: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

It’s a chemical compound designed to highlight small traces of these cancer cells in the body.

Melanoma occurs when the cells that make melanin, the dark pigment normally found in the skin, become cancerous. Melanoma cells often spread elsewhere in the body before the primary tumours are detected and removed surgically. Clusters of these melanoma cells can be hard to detect before they grow into tumours by which time they are often incurable.
Continue reading Unmasking melanoma early

Mapping the seafloor from space

We know more about the topography of Mars than that of Earth because 70 per cent of our planet is covered by water.

Kara Matthews has mapped the seafloor using satellite data and software. Credit: Kara Matthews

Now University of Sydney PhD student Kara Matthews has used satellite data and GPlates, a computer package developed at the University, to create a complete digital map of the many geological features of the seafloor.

Fracture zones—the orange lines in the accompanying image—are deep linear scars on the seafloor that extend perpendicular to the boundaries where tectonic plates are moving apart, revealing up to 150 million years of plate movement. They are accompanied by huge ridges on the seafloor, rising up to 2 km above the abyssal plains, and valleys as deep as 8 km below sea level.
Continue reading Mapping the seafloor from space

Is that you in the video?

Is that you in the video?
Clinton Fookes is technical director of QUT’s Airports of the Future. Credit: Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

A Queensland University of Technology (QUT) engineer is developing techniques to automatically identify people in surveillance videos and recognise their movement and behaviour.

The explosion of video surveillance to make public places safer, says Dr Clinton Fookes of the University’s School of Engineering Systems, has created a new challenge for researchers—to make sense of what cameras and computers see. So he is investigating ways to extract and interpret important information from these visual sources.

The data generated by the proliferation of surveillance cameras, as well as the countless images and videos online, he says, are impossible to intelligently use without sophisticated computer vision technology that can automatically extract information from these sources, collate and report on it in real time.

As Clinton’s work is ideally suited to improving security in public places such as airports, one of his roles is technical director of QUT’s Airports of the Future—a major research project aimed at improving the experience of passengers passing through Australia’s airports.

His research in this field could lead to new discoveries in a range of areas including human-computer interaction, security, medical imaging and robotics.

Photo: Clinton Fookes is technical director of QUT’s Airports of the Future.
Credit: QUT

School of Engineering Systems, QUT, Clinton Fookes, Tel: + 61 7 3138 2458, c.fookes@qut.edu.au, staff.qut.edu.au/staff/fookes/

Seeing things that no one ever knew were there!

Bone cell. Credit: B. Milthorpe, UTS
Bone cell. Credit: B. Milthorpe, UTS

A new $1.5 million super resolution microscope is producing spectacular images of bacteria and parasites, and making Australia a world leader in microscopy.

The DeltaVision OMX 3D-Sim Super-Resolution Microscope, recently acquired by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), is one of only two in the world.

Continue reading Seeing things that no one ever knew were there!