Amazing Mother Nature, as Seen Through the Microscope
From stink bug eggs to fruit fly ovaries, it's Mother Nature from a completely new perspective. The winning pictures from the 2011 Olympus BioScapes photography contest show life as never before -- up close, through a microscope. 

Olympus BioSpaces 2012 Winners

This year’s winning images reflect the latest advances in neuroscience and cell biology, chosen for their scientific and technical merit as well as the beauty and impact of the images. Some of the images are purely scientific; others reflect our endless fascination with the little things in life.

Browse the whole gallery at, or -- if you think you have what it takes -- submit an image for the 2012 contest.

(Olympus BioSpaces)


10th Place Winner

Subject: Spherical colonies of bluegreen algae (Nostoc commune)

Technique: Darkfield illumination

(Gerd Guenther / Olympus BioScapes)


9th Place Winner

Subject: Living diatom Mediopyxis helysia, showing the cell nuclei and golden chloroplasts.

Technique: Brightfield

(Wolfgang Bettighofer / Olympus BioScapes)


8th Place Winner

Subject: Crane fly (Nephrotoma suturalis) sperm cell dividing (metaphase of meiosis)

Technique: Polarized light microscopy, 60x objective

(James LaFountain and Rudolf Oldenbourg / Olympus BioScapes)


7th Place Winner

Subject: Fruit fly (Drosophila) ovaries and uterus

Technique: Fluorescence

(Gunnar Newquist / Olympus BioScapes)


6th Place Winner

Subject: Stink bug eggs

Technique: Brightfield illumination

(Haris Antonopoulos / Olympus BioScapes)


5th Place Winner

Subject: Live coral Goniastrea sp., known as green brain coral. One full polyp in the center is shown with four surrounding polyps.

Technique: Phase contrast illumination

(James Nicholson of NOAA/NOS/NCCOS, Charleston, S.C. / Olympus BioScapes)


4th Place Winner

Subject: Paramecia contractile vacuoles, which regulate water pressure within the protozoan's body

Technique: Phase contrast illumination

(Edwin Lee / Olympus BioScapes)


3rd Place Winner

Subject: COS-7 cell membrane. Cells of this type are often transfected for biochemistry and cell biology research

Technique: Bessel beam super-resolution structured illumination microscopy

(Dr. Liang Gao / Olympus BioScapes)


2nd Place Winner

Subject: Lateral plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) root growing out of the primary root

Technique: Digital scanned light-sheet microscope

(Daniel von Wangenheim / Olympus BioScapes)


1st Place Winner

Subject: Rotifer Floscularia ringens feeding. Its rapidly beating cilia (hair-like structures) bring water containing food to the rotifer

Technique: Differential interference contrast microscopy

(Charles Krebs / Olympus BioScapes)


Last year's winners featured specimens like mushrooms, fish scales, and even red wine.

(Olympus BioScapes)


10th Place Winner

Subject: Weevil (possibly Curculio nucum or Curculio glandium). 

Technique: Image captured using episcopic illumination. 

(Laurie Knight / Olympus BioScapes)


9th Place Winner

Subject: Wildflower seeds. 

Technique: Image captured using brightfield reflected light.

(Yanping Wang / Olympus BioScapes)


8th Place Winner

Subject: Beetle leg. 

Technique: Lateral view of the adhesive pad of the first leg of a beetle (Clytus sp.), captured using autofluorescence.

(Dr. Jan Michels / Olympus BioScapes)


7th Place Winner

Subject: Eye of a common blue damselfly. 

Technique: 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 photo measures approximately 0.6 x 0.8mm; the image is a composite of two overlapping confocal image stacks.

(Dr. Igor Siwanowicz / Olympus BioScapes)


6th Place Winner

Subject: Spirogyra algae. 

Technique: Brightfield and polarized light.

(Dr. Jerzy Gubernator / Olympus BioScapes)


5th Place Winner

Subject: Primordium (bud) of the weedy flower Tribulus sp. at its final stages of development. 

Technique: More than 100 z-stacks were combined to produce the final image, which was captured using epi-illumination.

(Dr. M.R. Dadpour / Olympus BioScapes)


4th Place Winner

Subject: Living Licmophora juegensii on red alga, together with the diatom Cocconeis and filamentous cyanobacterial colonies. 

Technique: Licmophora cells can move to locate a place with suitable light exposure. They then produce a mucilaginous stalk to hold themselves in place. This multi-layer image was captured using differential interference contrast. 

(Wolfgang Bettighofer / Olympus BioScapes)


3rd Place Winner 

Subject: Solitary coral, Fungia sp. 

Technique: The tentacle tips, called acrospheres, are visibly enhanced using a technique developed for doing epifluorescence without a barrier filter. 

(James Nicholson / Olympus BioScapes)


2nd Place Winner

Subject: Rat brain. 

Technique: Widefield multiphoton fluorescence image stained to reveal the distribution of glia (cyan), neurofilaments (green) and cell nuclei (yellow) in the hippocampus.

(Thomas Deerinck / Olympus BioScapes)


1st Place Winner

Subject: The eyes of a daddy longlegs (Harvestman), showing the lenses (two large ovals), retinas and optic nerves. 

Technique: The image is a depth color-coded projection of a confocal image stack.

(Dr. Igor Siwanowicz / Olympus BioScapes)

Amazing Mother Nature, as Seen Through the Microscope

From stink bug eggs to fruit fly ovaries, it's Mother Nature from a completely new perspective. The winning pictures from the 2011 Olympus BioScapes photography contest show life as never before -- up close, through a microscope. 

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