These incredibly detailed images are scans of a brain of a bumblebee – measuring less than a centimetre across – created using a new technique called micro-CT scanning. Similar to hospital CT scanners used to visualise tumours inside patients or see the structure of a human brain, micro-CT uses precision X-ray beams to scan through objects hundreds of times in all directions. These X-rays are collected and assembled using a powerful computer, creating a three-dimensional image revealing a wealth of tiny details. Unlike other high-powered microscopy techniques, which use potentially damaging chemicals to preserve cells, micro-CT can be used to observe tissues in their natural state, providing a more accurate picture. And although it may not seem like we have a lot in common with a buzzing bumblebee, studying the structures of their brains and how they relate to their function helps to shed light on our own grey matter.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.