Phase contrast X-ray image of wheat spike highlighting the vascular system
Phase contrast X-ray image of wheat spike highlighting the vascular system

Researchers around the world are adopting new approaches and technologies to develop improved crop cultivars faster and more efficiently. Synchrotron-based structural and element specific imaging enables minimally invasive high spatial resolution, which is critical to illuminating the physiological mechanisms of plant growth and developmental responses. This makes possible significant leaps in crop performance and productivity to meet global needs.


Cooked plant-based protein protein showing structural disassociation between oil (dark voids) vs protein fibers (light stands) and air inclusions. Images are at a pixel resolution of 720 nm.

Researchers use synchrotron light to understand the structure (X-ray imaging) and nature (X-ray or infrared spectroscopy) of molecules in food samples. Laboratory-based microscopy and analytical techniques have limitations with respect to chemical sensitivity or inadequate information about the spatial distribution of biochemical components. Synchrotron-based imaging and spectroscopy can be applied to study any food samples or products from macro to nano-scale with no or minimal sample preparation. Synchrotron techniques have high detection sensitivity for molecules of interest compared to laboratory methods due to a combination of a brilliant light source and state-of-the-art detectors.  Both high resolution molecular mapping of food samples and fast time-scale study of molecular interactions are possible.



Soil cycle demonstration

CLS is one of the leading synchrotrons in the world for soil science research. With a unique suite of beamlines for the characterization of soils and rhizosphere samples from minimaly invasive micron scale research to destructive nano scale investigation. Synchrotron technologies have unique advantages for in-situ monitoring of the synthesis, accumulation, and transport of organic molecules and nutrients. CLS tools help researchers study the interactions between roots organic matter and soil mineral contents, enhancing work on organic matter-mineral interactions and carbon sequestration.



STXM ratio showing lignin to polysaccharides
STXM ratio image showing lignin to polysaccharides

Synchrotron techniques are used by CLS users engaged in tree breeding programs for different climatic conditions and to evaluate the quality of wood for various applications. It is also possible to study the treatment of wood products and efficacy of different wood treatments using techniques that use micron to nano scale spatial resolutions.

Animal Health

Canadian Light Source Zn distribution map created with VESPERS XRF

Synchrotron tools are used by researchers in studies related to animal health and to understand the structural and nutritional qualities of different feed materials. The effect of processing methods on the feed quality as well as the metabolism of feed by animals for nutrient and elemental availability are being studied by different researchers using the CLS. Additionally, small animal imaging facilities  are used to study small animal-related diseases and treatment efficacy. 


Agriculture News


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