Trees in the MRI: drought study

Recent tree-ring is data suggesting BC is facing its harshest droughts in 350 years. California is bracing itself for yet another year of drought.

So it is fitting, and timely, that scientists are studying the effect of drought using the best –and that includes the latest in medical imaging technology. An Australian study, led by Dr. Brendan Choat from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, scanned tree branches using MRI and CT to learn how extended drought periods affect the absorption of water in the trees.

“Traditionally, researchers looking to monitor the health of trees were forced to use techniques that were indirect and prone to inaccuracies, such as removing tree branches and spinning them in centrifuges,” said Dr. Choat. “This study shows that we can have much more confidence in our results by taking the advanced imaging technology we currently use on human patients in hospitals and applying it to plants to monitor their health. This provides a new window into how plants respond to environmental stresses.”

The study was published in the Journal of Plant Physiology.

2016-05-11T22:53:01+00:00