A bright blue and orange photo highlighting the tiny vessels in and around a young zebrafish’s brain won first place in the Nikon Small World Photo Contest, an annual competition that shows photos of our world at the microscopic level given by representatives from Nikon known today (October 13th).
In this breathtaking image, the lymph vessels of the fish’s brain glow orange, as do the branching tendrils that stretch across the body in the complex lymphatic system that clears the body of debris. The delicate orange threads balance the light blue patterns – the scales and bones of the fish.
Daniel Castranova, Brant Weinstein and Bakary Samasa, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), took the award-winning photo using confocal microscopy, an optical imaging technique. Castranova put together more than 350 images to create the end result, which competition officials in a statement called “staggering”.
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In the zebrafish, lymphatics and bones express fluorescent proteins in different parts of the spectrum. The researchers then stain the illuminated areas of the images to differentiate between different proteins, Castranova told Live Science.
To image the live zebrafish, Castranova and her colleagues anesthetized the animal and placed it in a collapsible gel called agarose to keep the fish calm for photos and to cover the zebrafish with water so it could breathe.
“We can picture them and then peel them off the agarose and bring them back to life,” Castranova said. The researchers photographed this particular zebrafish at multiple stages of its growth and created a time series to show where the brain’s lymph vessels come from and how they develop.
Lymphatic vessels were first discovered in the mammalian brain in 2015 and can help the brain remove toxins, according to the NIH. This zebrafish picture is part of a study showing for the first time that fish have these vessels in their brains, he said.
Second place went to a composite picture showing the development of the embryo in a clown fish (Amphiprion percula), in a sequence that nature photographer Daniel Knop took over four days. The first egg on the far left was freshly fertilized, while the egg at the end of the line on the right was hours before hatching according to competition clearance. The third place winner, a colorful close-up of the tongue of a freshwater snail, was captured by Igor Siwanowicz, biochemist and neurobiologist at the Max Planck Institute in Munich.
For 46 years, the Nikon competition has celebrated photographers and scientists who capture tiny wonders with microscopes and camera lenses. Notable images from earlier years included a rainbow-colored turtle embryo; Clusters of sparkling scales that resemble the glitter around a beetle’s eye; and a shiny embryonic fish face, to name a few.
This year, the winners were selected from over 2,000 nominations representing microscopy researchers and artists from 90 countries around the world. The jury assessed the entries based on their artistic vision, originality, technical expertise and scientific background.
“First and foremost, the image must be eye-catching – it must be aesthetically interesting or appealing,” said competition judge Dylan Burnette, assistant professor at the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical School in Nashville. Tennessee.
“An interesting science perspective is also required to get an image into the top 20,” Burnette told Live Science. The clarity and beauty of Castranova’s image – as well as its scientific significance – immediately caught the judges’ attention, Burnette said.
“It was one of the few pictures that all the judges agreed on,” he said. “His first place was pretty clear almost immediately. “”
You can see all of the award-winning photos and honorable mentions on the Nikon Small World Contest website.
Originally posted on Live Science.
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