Mosaic, block-face microscopy for measuring cell dimensions, cell collapse, and spatial relationships in wood

In: IAWA Journal
Alan Dickson Scion, Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park, Titokorangi Drive, Rotorua 3010, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua 3046, New Zealand

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A conventional stereo light microscope was used to image polished wood surfaces at cellular resolution over size scales of the growth ring or larger. Bandpass filtering and local area contrast enhancement were used to aid automatic image thresholding and binarisation. An estimate for the location and proportion of cell collapse was introduced based on the distance between uncollapsed cell lumens. Additionally, spatial associations between vessels were determined using a Euclidean distance transform. The analysis of pith to bark cores provided sufficient detail to show significant intra and inter-annual trends in Pinus radiata tracheid dimensions (wall thickness, wall area, and radial widths). These trends were consistent with expectations and in agreement with the literature. Measured cell dimensions may be influenced by cell collapse and deformation as a result of drying. The analysis of air, kiln and oven-dried Eucalyptus nitens showed that cell collapse was highly variable but generally more prominent in the outer third of growth rings. There were significant changes in vessel shape across the growth rings and vessel area was significantly reduced by drying. The technique provides an intermediate step between detailed microscopy and macroscopic imaging that allows spatial analysis at the wood cell level.

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