A dataset describing brooding in three species of South African brittle stars, comprising seven high-resolution, micro X-ray computed tomography scans
CITATION: Landschoff, J., Du Plessis, A. & Griffiths, C. L. 2015. A dataset describing brooding in three species of South African brittle stars, comprising seven high-resolution, micro X-ray computed tomography scans. GigaScience, 4:52, doi:10.1186/s13742-015-0093-2.
The original publication is available at https://gigascience.biomedcentral.com
Background: Brooding brittle stars have a special mode of reproduction whereby they retain their eggs and juveniles inside respiratory body sacs called bursae. In the past, studying this phenomenon required disturbance of the sample by dissecting the adult. This caused irreversible damage and made the sample unsuitable for future studies. Micro X-ray computed tomography (μCT) is a promising technique, not only to visualise juveniles inside the bursae, but also to keep the sample intact and make the dataset of the scan available for future reference. Findings: Seven μCT scans of five freshly fixed (70 % ethanol) individuals, representing three differently sized brittle star species, provided adequate image quality to determine the numbers, sizes and postures of internally brooded young, as well as anatomy and morphology of adults. No staining agents were necessary to achieve highresolution, high-contrast images, which permitted visualisations of both calcified and soft tissue. The raw data (projection and reconstruction images) are publicly available for download from GigaDB. Conclusions: Brittle stars of all sizes are suitable candidates for μCT imaging. This explicitly adds a new technique to the suite of tools available for studying the development of internally brooded young. The purpose of applying the technique was to visualise juveniles inside the adult, but because of the universally good quality of the dataset, the images can also be used for anatomical or comparative morphology-related studies of adult structures.