Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Project takes fish collection into the digital age

21.03.2006


Novel application of MRI leads to new tools for online dissection of preserved fishes



The same medical technology used to image brain tumors and torn knee ligaments is now taking the field of marine biology to a new dimension: anyone with Internet access will be able to look at fish as never before.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded researchers at the University of California at San Diego’s (UCSD) Keck Center for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography a grant to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to create a high-resolution, 3-dimensional, online catalog of fishes.


"This project will augment the existing Scripps Marine Vertebrate Collection by using a new tool and a new way to present information about fishes," said collection curator Philip Hastings. "It’s part of our general effort to make the collection more available to a wider audience."

UCSD School of Medicine’s Lawrence Frank, who leads the biomedical applications program at the Keck fMRI Center, will direct the project. He said the undertaking will further push development of MRI technology for unique applications in humans as well as other species.

"This project also shows the growing role of cutting-edge imaging and computer technologies in increasing our access to information about not only marine biology, but biodiversity and global ecology as well," said Frank.

The five-year, $2.5 million Digital Fish Library project will support development and application of new MRI technology that, in conjunction with novel data analysis and visualization methods, penetrates soft body tissue to provide 3-D images of physiological structures.

"The project uses digital imaging technology to open the inner workings of vertebrate fish without destroying precious specimens," said Manfred Zorn, program director in NSF’s Division of Biological Infrastructure, which funded the project. "It will also open the collection to researchers around the world, who will be able to access images via the internet."

The plan is to image the internal anatomies of the entire range of fishes, said Hastings. "Capturing the variation across all fishes will open the door to a range of interesting questions about how species differ. You can imagine comparing the brain of a coral-reef fish that relies on vision with one from the deep sea that relies mainly on smell, or comparing the muscles of deep-sea fishes that regularly migrate to the surface with those that stay in the deep."

This variation is part of the challenge, as standard MRI is designed to image the anatomy of humans, who slide inside large cylindrical "coils" that capture data that is then processed to create detailed computer images.

"Fish come in a variety of odd shapes, so we have to develop new hardware to image them," said Frank. "Engineers at the center are building special coils for fish. We are also working on new ways of collecting data, because fish tissue can be very different from the tissues we typically image. By tailoring the technology, we will further optimize our use of MRI, whether we’re imaging cardiac muscle, brain tissue, cartilage or fish."

The technology will enable researchers to acquire and process high-resolution data of various fish anatomies that can be placed on the Internet. Using this powerful and versatile imaging tool, scientists, students and anyone in the public will be able to digitally probe and dissect these fishes from a desktop computer anywhere in the world.

Scripps’ Marine Vertebrate, or "Fish," Collection, is among the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind, containing 90 percent of all known families of fishes. With more than 2 million specimens, the collection is used by researchers around the world to investigate the systematics, biodiversity, physiology, ecology and conservation of fishes. Through the Digital Fish Library project, coordinators will image at least one of every 482 fish families in the world.

Project coordinators will create a resource that allows scientists to remotely study the world’s fish species, from the exotic to the mundane. In collaboration with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the scientists will also develop the "Digital Dissection Tool," an educational program for high-school students that capitalizes on the interactive scientific research aspects of the project.

"By creating the Digital Fish Library, we’re developing a tool that stimulates students to think independently and naturally leads them into questions they might want to investigate," Frank said. "We hope to design an educational model that spurs students’ interests and teaches them how to conduct research. It’s not just teaching them about fish anatomy or physiology; it’s teaching them about magnetic resonance imaging, computation and visualization."

Education modules within the Digital Dissection Tool will cover the basics of MRI, digital image processing of 3-D MRI data as well as aspects of marine biology. Under the guidance of co-investigator Cheryl Peach of the Birch Aquarium, elements of the project also will be incorporated into UCSD’s Academic Connections Program, an intensive, three-week summer learning experience for college-bound high-school students.

Hastings said virtual dissections will help preserve fish specimens, unlike traditional, physical dissections that often destroy them. That is even more important with rare specimens. In a global environment in which marine species are being threatened by overfishing, pollution, climate warming and other risks, such resources have become increasingly important, he said.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ADP-ribosylation on the right track
26.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns

nachricht Flavins keep a handy helper in their pocket
25.04.2018 | University of Freiburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Why we need erasable MRI scans

New technology could allow an MRI contrast agent to 'blink off,' helping doctors diagnose disease

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Why we need erasable MRI scans

26.04.2018 | Medical Engineering

Balancing nuclear and renewable energy

26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

26.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>