The history of man looking for an instrument to view objects too small to be seen by the naked eye dates back hundreds of years. In 1665, Robert Hooke first observed “cells” when looking at a sliver of cork through a microscope lens. Less than 10 years later, Anton van Leeuwenhoek was credited with building the first simple microscope. Since its inception in the 17th century, microscopy has evolved with such significant technological advances that far exceed the capability thought by its earliest inventors. If only Hooke and Leeuwenhoek could see the images captured today.
Now in its seventh year, the Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition® is the world’s premier forum for honoring and showcasing microscope images and movies of life science subjects captured through light microscopes. Nearly 2000 entries participated in the 2010 competition, providing images and movies that captured a wide variety of samples.
Figure 1 - First-place winner: eyes of Daddy Longlegs (Harvestman).
First place was awarded to Dr. Igor Siwanowicz of the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Munich, Germany. He captured a confocal microscope image that showcases the bug-eyed splendor of a Daddy Longlegs, also known as a Harvestman or Phalangium opilio (see Figure 1). The photo reveals not only the eyes’ lenses (two large ovals), but also the retinas and optic nerves (trailing down at center back). The reward for first place was $5000 worth of equipment from Olympus (Center Valley, PA).
Figure 2 - Second-place winner: rat hippocampus.
Second place went to Mr. Thomas Deerinck from the National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, University of California (San Diego) for a widefield multiphoton fluorescence image of a rat hippocampus using stain to reveal the distribution of glia (cyan), neurofilaments (green), and cell nuclei (yellow) (Figure 2).
Figure 3 - Third-place winner: solitary coral.
James Nicholson from the Coral Culture & Collaborative Research Facility, NOAA NOS NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Fort Johnson Marine Lab (Charleston, SC), received third place for an image of solitary coral, Fungia sp. (see Figure 3). The tentacle tips, called acrospheres, are visibly enhanced using a technique developed for performing epifluorescence without a barrier filter.
Figure 4 - Fourth-place winner: living Licmophora juegensii on red alga.
Fourth place went to Mr. Wolfgang Bettighofer (Kiel, Germany) for a multilayer image captured using differential interference contrast of a living Licmophora juegensii on red alga, together with the diatom Cocconeis and filamentous cyanobacterial colonies (Figure 4).
Figure 5 - Fifth-place winner: primordium of the weedy flower Tribulus sp.
Dr. M. Reza Dadpour from the University of Tabriz, Department of Horticultural Sciences (Tabriz, Iran), was awarded fifth place for an image of a primordium (bud) of the weedy flower Tribulus sp. at its final stages of development (Figure 5). More than 100 z-stacks were combined to produce the final image, which was captured using epi-illumination.
Figure 6 - Sixth-place winner: Spirogyra.
Dr. Jerzy Gubernator from the University of Wroclaw (Poland) received sixth place for an image of Spirogyra using brightfield and polarized light (Figure 6).
Figure 7 - Seventh-place winner: eye of a common blue damselfly.
Seventh place was Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, also first-place winner, for an image of an eye of a commmon blue damselfly (see Figure 7). This projection of a series of confocal microscope images shows the regular, crystal-like architecture of the eye of the Enallagma cyathigerum, an active visual predator and a swift flyer. The area covered in the photograph measures approximately 0.6 × 0.8 mm; the image is a composite of two overlapping confocal image stacks.
Figure 8 - Eighth-place winner: beetle leg.
Eighth place was Dr. Jan Michels from the Department of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Institute of Zoology, Christian Albrecht University of Kiel (Germany), for an image of a beetle leg (Figure 8). The image is a lateral view of the adhesive pad of the first leg of a beetle (Clytus sp.) captured using autofluorescence.
Figure 9 - Ninth-place winner: wildflower seeds.
Ms. Yanping Wang from Yanping Wang (Beijing, China) received ninth place for an image of wildflower seeds captured using brightfield reflected light (Figure 9).
Figure 10 - Tenth-place winner: weevil.
Tenth place went to Mr. Laurie Knight from Tonbridge (Kent, U.K.) for an image of a weevil, possibly Curculio nucum or Curculio glandium (see Figure 10). The image was captured using episcopic illumination.