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3D Soil helps to understand soil microorganisms

3D Soil helps to understand soil microorganisms

Very interesting use of the new 3D technology. Essentially, the scientists at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland are

understand soil microorganisms
Picture of 3D soil created to study soil microorganisms.

creating three dimensional soil. This allows the addition of soil microorganisms to the mix and allows the close up examination of the interaction of the microorganisms and the soil.

3D printed soil reveals the world beneath our feet

Soil scientists at Abertay University are using 3D printing technology to find out, for the very first time, exactly what is going on in the world beneath our feet.

n the same way that ecologists study the interactions of living organisms above ground, Professor Wilfred Otten and researchers at the university’s SIMBIOS Centre are taking advantage of the new technology to do the same below ground.

Using X-ray Computed Tomography (CT scanning), the team have already been able to create 3D images of the intricate structure of soil – a network of pores not unlike the holes in an Emmental cheese.

However, they now want to know how these holes, or “pore spaces”, determine the ways in which the fungi and bacteria living within them interact.

And 3D printing technology has enabled the scientists to start finding out, as they can now turn the 3D images on the computer screen into real-life, hand-held, 3D objects.‌

The incredibly detailed plastic cubes that are printed out are replicas of the structure of the soil, and are being used by the scientists as experimental systems in the lab.

By inserting microorganisms (such as fungi and bacteria) into the pore spaces within the plastic soil, the scientists can now observe how these microorganisms move through it, survive, find food sources and interact.

Although 3D printing is becoming more common, and people can buy 3D printers to use at home, it has never been used to print something so intricate and detailed as soil before.
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Custom BIologicals understand soil microorganisms. Custom manufactures and distributes biological products for use in a number of industries.

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