For nearly four decades Nikon has been organizing its Small World microscope photography contest and this years’ entries are surely one of the best ever. 20 winning photographs were selected from nearly 2000 submissions for their originality, informational content and visual impact. The first place went to Jennifer Peters and Michael Taylor for showing the blood-brain barrier in a living zebrafish embryo, which Nikon believes is the first image ever to show the formation of this barrier in a live animal.

According to their website, “Small World is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope.” The competition is open to anyone who’s interested in microscopy and photography. There is also a video competition, called Small World In Motion.

Take a look at the top 20 photomicrographs from the 38th Nikon Small World competition.


1st Place

Jennifer Peters and Michael Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. Subject: The blood-brain barrier in a live zebrafish embryo (20x).

2nd Place

Walter Piorkowski, South Beloit, Illinois. Subject: Live newborn lynx spider-lings (6x).

3rd Place

Dylan Burnette, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Subject: Human bone cancer (osteosarcoma) showing actin filaments (purple), mitochondria (yellow), and DNA (blue) (63x).

4th Place

W. Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia. Subject: Drosophila melanogaster visual system halfway through pupal development, showing retina (gold), photoreceptor axons (blue), and brain (green) (1,500x).

5th Place

Honorio Cócera, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain. Subject: Cacoxenite (mineral) from La Paloma Mine, Spain (18x).

6th Place

Marek Mis, Marek Mis Photography, Suwalki, Poland. Subject: Cosmarium sp. (desmid) near a Sphagnum sp. leaf (100x).

7th Place

Michael Bridge, HSC Core Research Facilities — Cell Imaging Lab, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Subject: Eye organ of a Drosophila melanogaster (third-instar larvae) (60x).

8th Place

Gerd A.Guenther, Düsseldorf, Germany. Subject: Pleurobrachia sp. (sea gooseberry) larva (500x)

9th Place

Geir Drange, Borgen, Norway. Subject: Myrmica sp. (ant) carrying its larva (5x).

10th Place

Alvaro Migotto, University of São Paulo, Centro de Biologia Marinha, São Paulo Brazil. Subject: Brittle star (8x).

11th Place

Jessica Von Stetina, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Subject: Single optical section through the tip of the gut of a Drosophila melanogaster larva expressing a reporter for Notch signaling pathway activity (green), and stained with cytoskeletal (red) and nuclear (blue) markers (25x).

12th Place

Esra Guc, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. Subject: 3D lymphangiogenesis assay. Cells sprout from dextran beads embedded in fibrin gel (200x).

13th Place

Diana Lipscomb, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Subject: Sonderia sp. (a ciliate that preys upon various algae, diatoms, and cyanobacteria (400x).

14th Place

José R. Almodovar Rivera, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Pistil of the flower of Adenium obesum (10x).

15th Place

Andrea Genre, Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Turin, Italy. Section of a Coccinella (ladybug) leg (10x).

16th Place

Douglas Moore, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Subject: Fossilized Turitella agate containing Elimia tenera (freshwater snails) and ostracods (seed shrimp) (7x).

17th Place

Charles Krebs, Charles Krebs Photography, Issaquah, Washington. Subject: Stinging nettle trichome on leaf vein (100x).

18th Place

David Maitland, Feltwell, United Kingdom. Subject: Coral sand (100x).

19th Place

Somayeh Naghiloo, Department of Plant Biology, University of Tabriz, Iran. Subject: Floral primordia of Allium sativum (garlic).

20th Place

Dorit Hockman, University of Cambridge, Trinity College, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Subject: Molossus rufu (black mastiff bat) embryos.