Plants and their Guests

Our ways of depicting plants and the animals that interact with them have changed through the ages, from botanical drawings and paintings, to photographs and 3D images. We have described a novel way of imaging plants and associated animals in 3D based on a technique called Optical Projection Tomography. Normally this method is restricted to specimens less than ~1cm (e.g. carnivorous bladderwort plant traps), but by developing a macro version (called Macro OPT), we are able to image specimens up to 6cm in size. This allows imaging of a range of entire flowers, leaves and associated animals. In our Beauty and the Bee movie, we combine images from Macro OPT with more traditional botanical illustrations in the John Innes Centre Historical Collection.

In our Flower Duet movie, we illustrate the intimate relationship between bees and flowers by showing a bee visiting wild Snapdragon flowers in the Pyrenees together with Macro OPT images of a bee inside a flower. In our Antirrhinum and Linaria movie we show how photography combined with 3D visualisations helps explore flowers inside and out. Our Self-made shape movie shows how Macro OPT is used in our research to aid understanding of the development of shape.

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