bioscapes imaging competition

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Watching Embryos Develop From Earliest Moments

Using new microscopy techniques, researchers are getting to watch life develop from the beginning. The gifs above were created from work being done at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Scientists William Lemon, Fernando Amat and Philipp Keller recorded the developing embryo of a fly called Drosophila melanogaster three hours after it was laid as an egg until it started crawling.

To view the fitful movements that occur in the embryo as early nonspecific cells transform into specialized ones and systems develop, they attached fluorescent compounds that glow under certain light to proteins in the nucleus of the its cells. They then trained a device called a simultaneous multiview light-sheet microscope onto the developing organism to follow the action, and took a picture every 30 seconds over the course of a day.

Their work, published last year in the journal Nature Methods, investigated the tracking and development of nuclei to understand where cells start and where they wind up. Understanding this evolution is one of the main goals of developmental biology. 

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This composite image of a single-celled freshwater algae took third place in the 2013 Olympus BioScapes digital imaging competition. Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, a neurobiologist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, took the image of the symmetric microbes within a family of eukaryotic green algae called desmids.

He used confocal microscopy and magnified the organisms 400 times, creating a single composite image that contains seven different species. The species pictured are Micrasterias rotata, Micrasterias sp., Micrasterias furcata, Micrasterias americana, Micrasterias truncata, Euastrum sp. and Cosmarium sp.

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