Olympus BioScapes 2011

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Welcome to the microcosm
The Olympic BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition honors the world's most extraordinary microscopic images of life science subjects. This picture from Gerd Guenther of Duesseldorf, Germany, shows spherical colonies of a type of blue-green algae known as Nostoc commune. The photo, created using darkfield illumination, won 10th place in the 2011 competition. Click onward to see the rest of the top 10.
It came from the North Sea
A photo taken using brightfield microscopy shows the cell nuclei and golden chloroplasts of a living diatom known as Mediopyxis helysia. On top of the diatom you can see a bacteria colony in mucilage. The specimen is from the North Sea. The picture, created by Wolfgang Bettighofer of Kiel, Germany, won ninth place in the Olympus BioScapes contest.
Moment of meiosis
Scientists capture a sperm cell from a crane fly (Nephrotoma suturalis) in the midst of cell division, a process also known as meiosis. This is part of a series of images that were produced every 15 seconds for 35 minutes, using polarized light microscopy. The resulting movie earned eighth place in the Olympus BioScapes contest for James LaFountain of SUNY-Buffalo and Rudolf Oldenbourg of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.
A fly's female parts
The muscular and neural structure of a fruit fly's reproductive system, including the uterus and ovaries, is revealed here using fluorescence microscopy. The background staining of the eggs in red is a specific function of the mutant strain of Drosophila melanogaster. The picture by the University of Nevada's Gunnar Newquist earned seventh place in the Olympus BioScapes contest.
Stinky eggs
This photomicrograph by Haris Antonopoulos of Athens, Greece, shows a bunch of stink bug eggs under brightfield illumination. Stink bugs are agricultural pests that exist throughout the world. When disturbed, they emit a characteristic foul-smelling odor. The picture won sixth place in the Olympus BioScapes contest.
Cool coral
This underwater image of live green brain coral (Goniastrea sp.) was created by James Nicholson, a researcher at the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research. One full polyp in the center is shown with four surrounding polyps. The walled corallites are purple. All of the color seen here comes from the natural autofluorescence of the coral - with the exception of the purple, which takes advantage of near-violet LED illumination to highlight the near-transparent tissue. The picture won fifth place in the Olympus BioScapes contest.
Inside a protozoan
This photomicrograph highlights structures inside paramecia that are known as contractile vacuoles. The vacuoles regulate water pressure within the protozoan's body. Water enters through the cell wall by osmosis and then passes through the cytoplasm to the vacuole's canals. When filled, the vacuole expels the water from the cell's body. The phase-contrast image won fourth place in the Olympus BioScapes contest for Edwin Lee of Carrollton, Texas.
Cells in the spotlight
Third place in the Olympus BioScapes contest goes to a four-channel video of COS-7 cells, which are used in biological research. These cells are derived from African green monkey kidney cells. The video, captured by Liang Gao of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, took advantage of a process known as Bessel beam super-resolution structured illumination microscopy.
A root is born
The Olympus BioScape judges awarded second prize to an amazing time-lapse movie of a cress plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) developing new roots over a 75-hour period. This frame shows a lateral root growing out of the primary root. Daniel von Wangenheim of Goethe University in Frankfurt, German, captured the video using digital scanned light-sheet microscopy.

The 'mouse' that roared
It may look like a big-eared cartoon mouse, but the creature pictured in the Olympus BioScapes contest's top image is actually a rotifer (Floscularia ringens). A rotifer is a tiny underwater creature with hairlike cilia that sweep at lightning speed to bring food into its mouth. When the cilia beat, rotifers look as if they have two wheels spinning on top. You can also see this rotifer's reddish tube-shaped home, with one of the "bricks" in the process of being made inside the creature's body. The first-place image was produced by Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash., using differential interference contrast microscopy.


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Olympus BioScapes 2011

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