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Vivid Symmetrical Shapes of Algae Revealed in Stunning Photo

Desmids Composite
A composite image showing a collection of single-cell fresh water algae, desmids. Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia, created the composite image, which placed third in the 2013 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition. (Image credit: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Third Place, <a href="http://www.olympusbioscapes.com/"> 2013 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition® </a> | <a href="http://www.olympusbioscapes.com/">www.olympusbioscapes.com</a>)

This amazing image isn't a new type of flower. It's a composite showing a collection of single-cell freshwater green algae called desmids. Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia, created the composite image, which placed third in the 2013 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition.

Desmids exhibit a vast diversity of sizes from 10 microns or smaller to 0.3 mm. The red in the image comes from the innate fluorescence — the process by which light of a certain wavelength is absorbed by a substance and emitted, usually at a different wavelength — of chlorophyll. By stacking several desmids together, Siwanowicz was able to create the flowerlike appearance. 

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site Space.com.