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Stunning Dorsal View of a Zebrafish Wins Forty-Sixth Annual Nikon Small World Photo Microscopy Competition

Oct 13, 2020

The colorful snapshot gives viewers an inside look at the zebrafish’s skeleton, lymphatic vessels.

First Place, 2020 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition
Dorsal view of bones and scales (blue) and lymphatic vessels (orange) in a juvenile zebrafish

Nikon Instruments Inc. today announced the winners of the forty-sixth annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. 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 stunning visual. The image was acquired using a spinning disk confocal, merging together maximum intensity projections of three separate image Z stacks to generate the final reconstructed image.

“The image is beautiful, but also shows how powerful the zebrafish can be as a model for the development of lymphatic vessels,” Castranova said, “Until now, we thought this type of lymphatic system associated with the nervous system only occurred in mammals. By studying them, 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.”

“For 46 years, the goal of the Nikon Small World competition has been to share microscopic imagery that visually blends art and science for the general public,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments, “As imaging techniques and technologies become more advanced, we are proud to showcase imagery that this blend of research, creativity, imaging technology and expertise can bring to scientific discovery. This year’s first place winner is a stunning example.”

Second place was awarded to Daniel Knop for his image of the embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1, 3 (morning and evening), 5, and 9, created using image-stacking. 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.

Third place was captured by Small World veteran Dr. Igor Siwanowicz for this picture of the tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail, using confocal microscopy.

In addition to the top three winners, Nikon Small World recognized 85 photos out of thousands of entries from scientists and artists across the globe.

The 2020 judging panel included:

  • Dr. Dylan Burnette, Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University
  • Dr. Christophe Leterrier, Group Leader at the Institute of Neurophysiopathology at CNRS and Aix-Marseille University
  • Samantha Clark, Photo Editor at National Geographic
  • Sean Greene, Graphics and Data Journalist at The Los Angeles Times
  • Ariel Waldman, Chair of the External Council for NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program

For additional information, please visit www.nikonsmallworld.com, or follow the conversation on Facebook, Twitter @NikonSmallWorld and Instagram @NikonInstruments.

2020 NIKON SMALL WORLD WINNERS

The following are the Top 20 and Honorable Mentions for Nikon Small World 2020. The full gallery of winning images, including the additional Images of Distinction, can be viewed at www.nikonsmallworld.com

1st Place
Daniel Castranova, Dr. Brant Weinstein & Bakary Samasa

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institutes of Health
Section on Vertebrate Organogenesis
Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Dorsal view of bones and scales (blue) and lymphatic vessels (orange) in a juvenile zebrafish
Confocal
4X (Objective Lens Magnification)

2nd Place
Daniel Knop

Natur und Tier-Verlag NTV
Oberzent-Airlenbach, Hessen, Germany
Embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1, 3 (morning and evening), 5, and 9
Image Stacking
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

3rd Place
Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Janelia Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail
Confocal
40X (Objective Lens Magnification)

4th Place
Dr. Vasileios Kokkoris, Dr. Franck Stefani & Dr. Nicolas Corradi

University of Ottawa & Agriculture and Agrifood Canada
Department of Biology
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Multi-nucleate spores and hyphae of a soil fungus (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus)
Confocal
63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

5th Place
Ahmad Fauzan

Saipem
Jakarta, Indonesia
Bogong moth
Image Stacking
5X (Objective Lens Magnification)

6th Place
Dr. Robert Markus & Zsuzsa Markus

University of Nottingham
School of Life Sciences, Super Resolution Microscopy
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Hebe plant anther with pollen
Confocal
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

7th Place
Jason Kirk

Baylor College of Medicine
Optical Imaging & Vital Microscopy Core
Houston, Texas, USA
Microtubules (orange) inside a cell. Nucleus is shown in cyan.
Confocal
63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

8th Place
Dr. Allan Carrillo-Baltodano & David Salamanca

Queen Mary University of London
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
London, United Kingdom
Chameleon embryo (autofluorescence)
Fluorescence
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

9th Place
Jason Kirk & Quynh Nguyen

Baylor College of Medicine
Optical Imaging & Vital Microscopy Core
Houston, Texas, USA
Connections between hippocampal neurons (brain cells)
Confocal
63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

10th Place
Ahmad Fauzan

Saipem
Jakarta, Indonesia
Daphnia magna (Phyllopoda)
Image Stacking
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

11th Place
Dr. Tagide deCarvalho

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Red algae
Confocal
63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

12th Place
Robert Vierthaler

Pfarrwerfen, Salzburg, Austria
Human hair
Image Stacking
20X (Objective Lens Magnification)

13th Place
Justin Zoll

Justin Zoll Photography
Ithaca, New York, USA
Crystals formed after heating an ethanol and water solution containing L-glutamine and beta-alanine
Polarized Light
4X (Objective Lens Magnification)

14th Place
Özgür Kerem Bulur

Istanbul, Turkey
Leaf roller weevil (Byctiscus betulae) lateral view
Image Stacking, Reflected Light
3.7X (Objective Lens Magnification)

15th Place
Dr. Eduardo Zattara & Dr. Alexa Bely

CONICET
Instituto Nac. de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medio Ambiente
Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentina
Chain of daughter individuals from the asexually reproducing annelid species Chaetogaster diaphanus
Brightfield
5X (Objective Lens Magnification)

16th Place
Alexander Klepnev

JSC Radiophysics
Moscow, Russian Federation
Nylon stockings
Polarized Light
9X (Objective Lens Magnification)

17th Place
Anne Algar

Hounslow, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Ventral view of an immature water boatman
Darkfield, Image Stacking, Polarized Light
4X (Objective Lens Magnification)

18th Place
Chris Perani

San Rafael, California, USA
Atlas moth wing
Image Stacking
10x (Objective Lens Magnification)

19th Place
Dr. Jan Michels

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Department of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics
Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Silica cell wall of the marine diatom Arachnoidiscus sp.
Confocal
50x (Objective Lens Magnification)

20th Place
Dr. Dorit Hockman & Dr. Vanessa Chong-Morrison

University of Cape Town
Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa
Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo (Carollia perspicillata)
Brightfield
1X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Honorable Mentions


Christopher Algar

Hounslow, Middlesex, United Kingdom
Phantom midge larva
Darkfield, Image Stacking, Polarized Light
4X (Objective Lens Magnification)

George Thomas Barlow

Duke University
Department of Biology
Durham, North Carolina, USA
Egyptian star cluster (Pentas lanceolata) stigma
Image Stacking
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Saikat Ghosh & Dr. Lolitika Mandal

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali
Department of Biological Sciences
Mohali, Punjab, India
Lymph gland (blood organ) of a fruit fly larva
Confocal
40X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Maikl Gribkov

Mikrofoto
Dzerzhinsky, Moskow Region, Russian Federation
Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens)
Image Stacking
4X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Aigars Jukna

Riga, Latvia
Beetle leg
Image Stacking, Reflected Light
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Karl Koehler & Dr. Jiyoon Lee

Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School
Department of Otolaryngology & Plastic and Oral Surgery
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Human hair follicles growing from a stem cell-derived skin organoid (cyan) with nerves (red)
Confocal
20X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Alexey Marchenko

AlexmarPhoto
Gomel, Belarus
Liquid crystals in a mobile LCD screen
Brightfield
20X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Marek Miś

Marek Miś Photography
Suwalki, Podlaskie, Poland
Daphnia sp. displaying seasonal changes in body shape with its elongated head and tail
Darkfield, Polarized Light
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Andrew Moore & Dr. Dvir Gur

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Janelia Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Actin in a live zebrafish (color-coded for depth)
Confocal
63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Jorge Perez Carsi

Valencia, Spain
Flower crab spider (Thomisus)
Image Stacking
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Javier Replinger

Profesor Técnico I.E.S Nestor Almendros
Imagen y sonido
Gines, Sevilla, Spain
Head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis)
Image Stacking, Reflected Light
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Marco Vinicio Retana

Palmares, Alajuela, Costa Rica
Ship-timber beetle (Lymexylidae)
Image Stacking
5X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Janelia Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Hedgehog flea
Confocal
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Janelia Research Campus
Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Freshwater snail tongue (radula)
Confocal
40X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Jonard Corpuz Valdoz, Dr. Pam Van Ry & Dr. Richard Robison

Brigham Young University
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (Van Ry Lab)
Provo, Utah, USA
Mouse paw infected with Chikungunya Virus (pink). Immune response is shown in blue and general tissue in orange.
Image Stitching, Confocal, Deconvolution
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Gerhard Zimmert

Vienna, Austria
Sweet violet (Viola odorata) root - transversal section
Brightfield
10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

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