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Leaf roller weevil

Science News

Nikon photo contest reveals the miniature worlds that surround us

Inspect a snail's tongue, marvel at a human hair and more of the world under a microscope.

/ 20 PHOTOS
Daniel Castranova, assisted by Bakary Samasa while working in the lab of Dr. Brant Weinstein at the National Institutes of Health, took the top prize for his artfully rendered and technically immaculate photo of a juvenile zebrafish. The image is a dorsal view of the head of a fish with fluorescently \"tagged\" skeleton, scales (blue) and lymphatic system (orange), taken using confocal microscopy and image-stacking. 

This image is particularly significant because it was taken as part of an imaging effort that helped Castranova's team make a groundbreaking discovery - zebrafish have lymphatic vessels inside their skull that were previously thought to occur only in mammals. Their occurrence in fish, a much easier subject to raise, experiment with, and photograph, could expedite and revolutionize research related to treatments for diseases that occur in the human brain, including cancer and Alzheimer's.

Castranova stitched together more than 350 individual images to create this single s

First place

Every year, entries in the Nikon Small World photo contest blend art and science to create stunning microscopic imagery. 

This year, the winner of the contest is Daniel Castranova, assisted by Bakary Samasa while working in the lab of Brant Weinstein at the National Institutes of Health, who combined more than 350 individual images to create this dorsal view of a juvenile zebrafish. 

This image is particularly significant because it was taken as part of an imaging effort that helped Castranova’s team make a groundbreaking discovery — zebrafish have lymphatic vessels inside their skull that were previously thought to occur only in mammals.

"The image is beautiful, but also shows how powerful the zebrafish can be as a model for the development of lymphatic vessels," Castranova said in a statement. "Until 2015, we thought this type of lymphatic system only occurred in mammals. By studying them now, the scientific community can expedite a range of research and clinical innovations — everything from drug trials to cancer treatments. This is because fish are so much easier to raise and image than mammals."

Daniel Castranova, Dr. Brant Weinstein and Bakary Samasa / NIH
Embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1, 3 (morning and evening), 5, and 9.

Second place

Second place was awarded to Daniel Knop for his image of the embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days one, three (morning and evening), five and nine.

It shows the development, from hours after fertilization (even with a pack of sperm cells being visible on top of the egg), until hours before hatching. The primary challenge was to create sharp focus stacking pictures while the embryo was alive and moving, according to Knop.

Daniel Knop / Natur und Tier-Verlag NTV
Tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail.

Third place

Third place was captured by Igor Siwanowicz for this picture of the tongue of a freshwater snail, using confocal microscopy.

In addition to the top three winners, Nikon Small World recognized 71 photos out of thousands of entries from scientists and artists across the globe. Scroll through to see all of the top 20 images in the contest. 

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz / Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Multi-nucleate spores and hyphae of a soil fungus (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus).

Soil fungus

Spores and filaments of a soil fungus.

Dr. Vasileios Kokkoris, Dr. Franck Stefani, Dr. Nicolas Corradi / University of Ottawa and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada
Bogong moth.

Moth

The Bogong moth of Australia.

Ahmad Fauzan Saipem / Saipem

Pollen

Pollen in the anther of a Hebe plant. 

Dr. Robert Markus and Zsuzsa Markus / University of Nottingham
Microtubules (orange) inside a cell. Nucleus is shown in cyan.

Microtubules

Microtubules (orange) inside a cell. Nucleus is shown in cyan.

Jason Kirk / Baylor College of Medicine
Chameleon embryo.

Chameleon

Chameleon embryo.

Dr. Allan Carrillo-Baltodano and David Salamanca / Queen Mary University of London
Connections between hippocampal neurons.

Brain cells

Connections between brain cells.

Jason Kirk and Quynh Nguyen / Baylor College of Medicine
Daphnia magna, a small planktonic crustacean that belongs to the subclass Phyllopoda.

Crustacean

Daphnia magna, a type of crustacean that typically lives in freshwater environments.

Ahmad Fauzan / Saipem
Red algae.

Algae

Red algae is mostly found in freshwater lakes. 

Dr. Tagide deCarvalho / University of Maryland
Human hair at 20x magnification.

Human hair

The strand of hair was magnified 20 times.

Robert Vierthaler of Salzburg, Austria
Crystals formed after heating an ethanol and water solution containing L-glutamine and beta-alanine.

Crystal

These crystals formed after heating an ethanol and water solution containing amino acids.

Justin Zoll of Ithaca, N.Y.
Leaf roller weevil

Beetle

A lateral view of Byctiscus betulae, a type of leaf-rolling weevil.

Ozgur Kerem Bulur, Istanbul
Chain of daughter individuals from the asexually reproducing annelid species (Chaetogaster diaphanus).

Worm

Chain of individuals from the asexually reproducing segmented worm species Chaetogaster diaphanus.

Dr. Eduardo Zattara and Dr. Alexa Bely / CONICET
Nylon stockings.

Nylons

Nylon stockings magnified nine times.

Alexander Klepnev / JSC Radiophysics
An immature water boatman.

Aquatic insect

An underside view of a water-dwelling insect known as a water boatman.

Anne Algar of Hounslow, England
Atlas moth wing.

Wing's edge

The wing of an atlas moth, magnified 10 times.

Chris Perani of San Rafael, Calif.
Silica cell wall of the marine diatom Arachnoidiscus sp.

Microalgae

The cell wall of a type of single-celled algae.

Dr. Jan Michels / Kiel University
Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo.

Bat embryo

Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo.

See more winners from past Small World Competitions

Dr. Dorit Hockman and Dr. Vanessa Chong-Morrison / University of Cape Town
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