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Living large on a small scale

Browse through the top images from the 2013 Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition, which features microscopic images of life science subjects.

The Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition honors the world's most extraordinary microscopic images of life science subjects. This picture of a long-legged fly by Laurie Knight of Maidstone, England, received honorable mention in the 2013 competition. It was captured using diffused reflected illumination. Take a look at the top 10 images in the Olympus BioScapes contest, plus more of the honorable mentions. Laurie Knight
This image of a paramecium is from a video by Ralph Grimm of Jimboomba, Australia, that won 10th prize in the Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition. Paramecia live in fresh water. The excess water they take in via osmosis is collected into two contractile vacuoles, one at each end, which swell and expel water through an opening in the cell membrane. The sweeping motion of the hairlike cilia helps the single-celled organism move. Ralph Grimm
This image of a caddisfly larva by Fabrice Parais of Normandie, France, won ninth prize in the Olympus BioScapes competition. Sericostoma is a European and North American genus of insects whose larvae live in fresh water, in gravel, stones or sand. The female caddisfly builds a case (portable tube) of sand grains to protect her flabby body, and eats plant debris and small invertebrates. The larva is a good indicator of water quality because it is relatively sensitive to organic pollution and dies if the water is dirty. Fabrice Parais
These whole-mounts of mouse tails were stained for the hair follicle stem cell marker (K15, shown in green) as well as with Ki67 (red), which marks proliferating cells. Nuclei are marked in blue with a DAPI stain. This image by Yaron Fuchs of New York City won eighth prize in the Olympus BioScapes contest. Yaron Fuchs / Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Rockefeller University
This image of a phantom midge larva (Chaoborus), also known as a glassworm, won seventh prize in the competition for Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash. The larva's musculature is usually clear and colorless, but it's made visible here by specialized illumination. Charles Krebs
This image, titled "Brother Bugs," shows 2-hour-old box bugs (Gonocerus acuteangulatus) that measure just 3 millimeters (a tenth of an inch) in size. The picture earned Kurt Wirz of Basel, Switzerland, sixth prize in the Olympus BioScapes competition. Kurt Wirz
Mouse embryonic fibroblasts are stained to show actin filaments in red and DNA in blue. The image also shows the insides of mitochondria, which were visualized by expressing a green fluorescent protein fused to a mitochondrial localization sequence. Dylan Burnette of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., won fifth prize for the image. Dylan Burnette / National Institutes of Health
This photomicrograph shows a stained cross-section of a lily flower bud, highlighted by darkfield illumination. Spike Walker of Staffordshire, England, won fourth prize for this image. Spike Walker
A composite image shows a collection of single-celled, freshwater algae known as desmids. Desmids exhibit a vast diversity of sizes, from 10 microns or smaller to 300 microns or more. The red in the image comes from the innate fluorescence of chlorophyll. Organisms include (concentric from the outermost in): Micrasterias rotata, Micrasterias sp., M. furcata, M. americana, 2x M. truncata, Euastrum sp. and Cosmarium sp. Igor Siwanowicz of the HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va., won third prize for this image. Igor Siwanowicz
This black mastiff bat embryo (Molossus rufus) is at the "peekaboo" stage, when its wings have grown to cover its eyes. As development progresses, the embryo's fingers grow longer and form the maneuverable struts of its wings, supporting the membrane between its fingers. Dorit Hockman of the University of Oxford in England won second prize for this image. Dorit Hockman / University of Oxford
This image shows the open trap of an aquatic carnivorous plant, the humped bladderwort (Utricularia gibba). The floating plant digests microinvertebrates that are sucked into its trap a millisecond after they touch its trigger hairs. The traps also provide a microhabitat for single-celled green algae, predominantly desmids. The red in the image comes from chlorophyll's innate fluorescence. Igor Siwanowicz of HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, Va., won first prize in the 2013 BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition for this image. Igor Siwanowicz / HHMI Janelia Farm
Male and female water fleas (Daphnia pulex) are seen in this image by Philippe Verrees of Knokke, Belgium. It was awarded honorable mention in the Olympus BioScapes competition. Philippe Verrees
The airy filament and closed anther of a dark mullein flower (Verbascum nigrum) is beautiful in its own right. Jens Petersen of Ebeltoft, Denmark, was awarded an honorable mention in the Olympus BioScapes competition for this photomicrograph. Jens Petersen
This image shows the underside of a female copepod (Centropages hamatus). This image by Jan Michels of Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany, was awarded an honorable mention. Jan Michels / Christian-Albrechts-
This image of an anemone flower by Masoumeh "Sahar" Khodaverdi of Tabriz University in Iran was awarded an honorable mention. Masoumeh Khodaverdi / Tabriz University
These ant pupae (genus Myrmica) are shown in different stages of development. The two rightmost pupae have parasitic mites on their antennae. The specimens have been frozen before staging. Geir Drange of Asker, Norway, was awarded an honorable mention for this image. Geir Drange