Developing a system for in vivo imaging of maize roots containing iodinated contrast media in soil using synchrotron XCT and XRF

Callum Paul Scotson, Arjen Van Veelen, Katherine Anne Williams, Nicolai Koebernick, Daniel McKay Fletcher, Tiina Roose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We sought to develop a novel experimental system which enabled application of iodinated contrast media to in vivo plant roots intact in soil and was compatible with time-resolved synchrotron X-ray computed tomography imaging. The system was developed to overcome issues of low contrast to noise within X-ray computed tomography images of plant roots and soil environments, the latter of which can complicate image processing and result in the loss of anatomical information.
To demonstrate the efficacy of the system we use employ the novel use of both synchrotron X-ray computed tomography and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence mapping to capture the translocation of the contrast media through root vasculature into the leaves.
With the application of contrast media we identify fluid flow in root vasculature and visualise anatomical features, which are otherwise often only observable in ex vivo microscopy, including: the xylem, metaxylem, pith, fibres in aerenchyma and leaf venation. We are also able to observe interactions between aerenchyma cross sectional area and solute transport in the root vasculature with depth.
Our novel system was capable of successfully delivering sufficient contrast media into root and leaf tissues such that anatomical features could be visualised and internal fluid transport observed. We propose that our system, could be used in future to study internal plant transport mechanisms and parameterise models for fluid flow in plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-665
Number of pages19
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPrint publication - 10 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Iodinated contrast media
  • Maize
  • Roots
  • Soil
  • X-ray computed tomography
  • X-ray fluorescence mapping


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing a system for in vivo imaging of maize roots containing iodinated contrast media in soil using synchrotron XCT and XRF'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this