June 2022 ESRFnews
For the Danish fish-food company BioMar, HiP-CT imaging at the ESRF offers unparalleled clarity. With people eating upwards of 150 million tonnes of seafood every year according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization feeding fish is big business. The feed must meet the nutritional requirements of the fish, be sustainable and safeguard fish welfare, yet the specific effects of different diets are often hard to determine. Now, with mediation from the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), one major aquaculture company, BioMar A/S in Denmark, has come to the ESRF to continue exploring fish nutrition and its link to fish physiology. The DTI and BioMar have long
cooperated on the 3D analysis of fish-feed pellets using the DTI s lab- based micro computed-tomography (micro-CT) instrument. The cooperation continued with analysis of heavy-metal stained small fish of about 25 mm in length an analysis that confirmed the huge potential in following the digestive process inside the fish. For maximum quality in tomography data, the DTI then sent the company s samples to the ESRF to conduct hierarchical phase- contrast synchrotron tomography (HiP-CT). The results showed clear and quantifiable differences in experimental feeds; meanwhile, the fish imagery exposed the feed within the whole digestive system. The collaboration with ESRF was
thrilling says Susan Cooper, senior
specialist and big science mediator at DTI. This type of resolution in biological materials was not possible until recently. You can t do this in a lab you won t see the level of detail. For this kind of study, we need the best X-rays, which are available at large facilities like the ESRF. Our role as an institute is to bolster European industry and make state-of-the-art technologies more accessible and utilised. We are excited to be able to share the power of these techniques with many different markets. Pedro Gómez, senior scientist at
BioMar, says the collaborative work has expanded their knowledge of fish physiology, allowing the company to
M A R D E N M A R K
continue improving what we offer to the aquaculture industry in form of a high-quality feed . Each pellet we produce is based on solid science, and this exciting collaboration [with the DTI and the ESRF] provided us with the right tools, he adds. Having DTI as a mediator has been essential for us the sheer amount of data can be overwhelming, but DTI has the expertise to make it accessible, and could provide us with the comparative analysis in areas of interest to us. The ESRF HiP-CT images
impressed the DTI s business manager, Erik Wisaeus, who is in charge of data analysis and visualisation for both Micro CT and synchrotron data. They re the most jaw-dropping data I ve ever worked on, he says. While we got good and useful data from our micro-CT analysis, [HiP-CT] has really set the bar higher with the extreme level of detail we now can see in organic material. This assignment has opened my eyes to the possibilities made available by collaborating with the big science facilities, and it s been a privilege to make the data more accessible to our customers in the food and pharma industries.
HiP-CT imaging at the ESRF, as requested by the DTI, has allowed the Danish aquaculture company BioMar to see how experimental fish diets are digested in real fish.
Technology infrastructures (TIs) such as the DTI have a long history of providing lab services, equipment and support to help industry commercialise new products. In recent years, however, they have begun to work more closely with big science research infrastructures, as the DTI s collaboration with the ESRF illustrates (see main story). The ESRF is one of the first RIs [research infrastructures] we ve used as part of our supply chain, says Nikolaj Zangenberg, the DTI s innovation coordinator. Companies who come to us don t care what s behind the door. They just want the right solution. For commercial experiments involving just one sample, synchrotron instrumentation can be expensive, but Zangenberg says it is surprising how inexpensive the results can be to obtain relative to lab techniques once companies are ready to collect data from samples in bulk. It s also quicker, he adds. We see ourselves as a bridge between the industrial and academic worlds, Zangenberg continues.
By interacting with us, the ESRF is bridging out to 10, 20 industrial customers it s a multiplier effect.
TIs AND RIs: NEW PARTNERSHIPS