In Photos: Bee Eyes and Meat-Eating Plants Light Up Micro-Photo Contest

A bee's eye covered in pollen from a dandelion, a colony of bacteria growing inside a mouse's intestine, a close-up of a carnivorous plant's deadly trap — these are just a few of the winning images from this year's Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition. The annual contest offers microscope users from around the world a chance to show off their incredible photos of life's tiniest wonders. Here are this year's winning images: [Read the full story about the Small World photo contest]

1st Place

Ralph Claus Grimm

Jimboomba, Queensland, Australia

Eye of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) covered in dandelion pollen (120x), Reflected Light

2nd Place

Kristen Earle, Gabriel Billings, KC Huang & Justin Sonnenburg

Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford, California, USA

Mouse colon colonized with human microbiota (63x), Confocal

3rd Place

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Janelia Farm Research Campus, Leonardo Lab

Intake of a humped bladderwort (Utricularia gibba), a freshwater carnivorous plant (100x), Confocal

4th Place

Daniel H. Miller & Ethan S. Sokol

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Biology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Lab-grown human mammary gland organoid (100x), Confocal

5th Place

Dr. Giorgio Seano & Dr. Rakesh K. Jain

Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Live imaging of perfused vasculature in a mouse brain with glioblastoma , Optical Frequency Domain Imaging System

6th Place

Henri Koskinen

Helsinki, Finland

Spore capsule of a moss (Bryum sp.), Reflected Light

7th Place

Evan Darling

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA

Starfish imaged using confocal microscopy (10x), Confocal

8th Place

Dr. Tomoko Yamazaki

National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, USA

Nerves and blood vessels in a mouse ear skin (10x), Confocal

9th Place

Dr. Nathanael Prunet

California Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College, Department of Biology, Pasadena, California, USA

Young buds of Arabidopsis (a flowering plant) (40x), Confocal

10th Place

Ian Gardiner

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Clam shrimp (Cyzicus mexicanus), live specimen (25x), Darkfield, Focus Stacking

11th Place

Rogelio Moreno Gill

Panama, Panama

Fern sorus at varying levels of maturity (20x), Fluorescence, Image Stacking

12th Place

Hannah Sheppard-Brennand

Southern Cross University, National Marine Science Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Developing sea mullet (Mugil cephalus) embryos (40x), Brightfield

13th Place

Jose Almodovar

University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Mayaguez Campus, Biology Department, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, USA

Tentacles of a carnivorous plant (Drosera sp.) (20x), Image Stacking

14th Place

Viktor Sykora

Charles University, First Faculty of Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic

Australian grass (Austrostipa nodosa) seed (5x), Darkfield

15th Place

Dr. Heiti Paves

Tallinn University of Technology, Department of Gene Technology, Tallinn, Estonia

Anther of a flowering plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) (20x), Confocal

16th Place

Charles B. Krebs

Charles Krebs Photography, Issaquah, Washington, USA

Feeding rotifers (Floscularia ringens) (50x), Darkfield

17th Place

Dr. David Maitland

Feltwell, United Kingdom

Black witch-hazel (Trichodactylus crinitus) leaf producing crystals to defend against herbivores (100x), Differential Interference Contrast

18th Place

Roland Gross

Gruenen, Bern, Switzerland

Hairyback worm (Chaetonotus sp.) and algae (Micrasterias sp.) (400x), Differential Interference Contrast

19th Place

Dr. Richard R. Kirby

Marine Biological Association, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Planktonic larva of a horseshoe worm (phoronid) (450x), Darkfield

20th Place

Frank Reiser

Nassau Community College, Department  of Biology, Garden City, New York, USA

Suction cups on the diving beetle (Dytiscus sp.) foreleg (50x), Image Stacking, Photomerge

Baby mouse

Jace Artichoker

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester, New York, USA

Mouse embryo, 10.5 days old, Confocal (11x)

Coral fossils

Norm Barker

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Red fossil coral slab, Reflected Light (20x)

Baby peanut worm

Dr. Michael J. Boyle

Smithsonian Marine Station, Life Histories Department, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA

Peanut worm (Sipuncula) trochophore larva, 3 days old (yellow: cilia; cyan: DNA; red: serotonin in the nervous system), Confocal (40x)

Adult marine worm

Michael Crutchley

Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Adult marine worm (Autolytus), Macroscopy (30x)

Cancer cell

Dr. Reto Paul Fiolka

UT Southwestern Medical Center, Department of Cell Biology, Dallas, Texas, USA

Mitochondria in a live HeLa cancer cell, 3D Structured Illumination Microscopy (63x)

Stem cells

Cynthia Levinthal

Q Therapeutics, Clinical/Research Department, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Human neural stem cells, Fluorescence (200x)

Mouse fat

Dr. Daniela Malide

National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Light Microscopy Core Facility, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

3D reconstruction of mouse brown adipose (fat) tissue, Third Harmonic Generation Microscopy (40x)

Insect bugs

Rogelio Moreno Gill

Panama, Panama

Mites on insect pupa, Darkfield, Image Stacking (20x)

Tadpole parts

Dr. Helen Rankin

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

Transgenic Xenopus laevis (African clawed toad) tadpole head expressing green neurons, Confocal (10x)

Deep sea find

Dr. Robert B. Simmons

Briarwillow LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Foraminifera (a deep sea microscopic organism) isolated from a deep sea dredge in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, Stereomicroscopy (4x)

Beetle bits

Dr. Luca Toledano

Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona, Verona, Italy

Detail of jewel beetle (Coleoptera Buprestidae), Macroscopy, Image Stacking (32x)

Plant bugs

Susan Tremblay

University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA

Liverwort (Lepidolaena taylorii) plant showing modified leaves (water sacs), which are often home to aquatic microorganisms such as rotifers, Brightfield (100x)

Colony of individuals

Arturo Agostino

Reggio Calabria, Italy

Colony of single celled organisms (Carchesium ciliates) (160x), Differential Interference Contrast

Glowing alga

Dr. Kesara Margrét Anamthawat-Jonsson, Andrey N. Gagunashvili & Ólafur S. Andrésson

University of Iceland, Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences, Reykjavik, Iceland

Nostoc, a blue-green alga (cyanobacteria) showing red autofluorescence of the chlorophylls (400x), Fluorescence


Dr. Konstantin D. Bergmeister, Marion Gröger, Martin Aman, Anna Willensdorfer, Krisztina Manzano-Szalai & Oskar C. Aszmann

Medical University of Vienna, Christian Doppler Laboratory for Restoration of Extremity Function, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Depa

Murine biceps muscle stained to show different muscle fiber populations (20x), Fluorescence

Oh the colors

Christian Bohley

Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany

Degenerating Blue Phases (II) of 55% CB15 in E48 (substance used in manufacture of Liquid Crystal Displays) (100x), Polarized Light

Fruit fly larva

Dr. Maria Boulina, Dr. Akira Chiba & Hasitha Samarajeewa

University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA

Individually colored neurons in a live fruit fly (Drosophila) larva, Fluorescence, Confocal

Tiny numbers

Massimo Brizzi

Empoli, Italy

Numerical traces on a DVD/Blu-ray (100x), Fiber Optic Illumination

Mouse brains

Dr. Alessio Colombo

DZNE, Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Mouse dorsal root ganglia (neuronal plus Schwann cells) in culture (10x), Confocal

Dinner time

Michael Crutchley

Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Radula (feeding structure) of an aquatic snail (Limpet) (40x), Darkfield Epi.

Rat brains

Thomas Deerinck

University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

Triple-labeled rat cerebellum (100x),  Multiphoton

Mouse eye

Thomas Deerinck

University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

Vasculature and glial cells in the optic fiber layer of a mouse retina (200x), Confocal

Spider parts

Geir Drange

Asker, Norway

Jaws and head of a long jawed spider (Metellina sp.) (10x), Reflected Light


Dr. Santiago Gomez

University of Cadiz, Cadiz, Spain

Hipparion fossilized bone (100x), Polarized Light

Peace lily pollen

Dr. Marta Guervos

University of Oviedo, University Institute of Oncology of Asturias, Scientific-Technical Facilities/Optical Microscopy Unit, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

Pollen grains of a peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) (63x), Confocal

Fabric and glue

Gerd-A. Günther

Düsseldorf, Germany

Vilene fabric (glue drops shown in blue) (80x), Brightfield, Fluorescence


Dr. John Hart

University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Resorcinal and methylene blue crystal (33x), Polarized Light

Sea urchin skin

Dr. Richard Howey

University of Wyoming, Department of Philosophy, Laramie, Wyoming, USA

Skin of a sea urchin (Synapta) containing plates and anchors composed of calcareous (chalky) material (63x), Polarized Light

Mouse tongue

Dr. Matthew Kofron & Tayaramma Thatava

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Mouse tongue section (60x), Confocal

Cow lung

Dr. Talley J. Lambert

Harvard Medical School, Department of Cell Biology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Cow lung artery cell highlighting the cellular components actin (black), mitochondria (red), and DNA (blue) (60x), 3D-Structured Illumination Microscopy

Vampire moth mouth

Dr. Matthew S. Lehnert

Kent State University at Stark, North Canton, Ohio, USA

Proboscis (mouthparts) tip of a vampire moth (Calyptra thalictri). The modified tip and tearing hooks (red) assist with piercing fruit and mammal tissues for feeding (10x), Confocal

Honey bee stinger

Harry Leung

Harvard Medical School, Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Stinger of a honey bee (20x), Confocal

Floating organs

Dr. David Linstead

Bromley, Kent, United Kingdom

Buoyancy organs of a phantom midge (Chaoborus) larva (125x), Polarized Light

Pottery details

Yvonne (Yi-Chieh) Lu

New York, New York, USA

Detail of ancient Chinese pottery from the Song Dynasty (960-1126 AD) (4x), Macroscopy

Ancient engravings

Howard Lynk

Morehead City, North Carolina, USA

Microengraving on glass from an antique microscope slide created by Washington Teasdale c. 1880 (100x), Darkfield

Water lily leaf

Dr. David Maitland, Feltwell, United Kingdom

Leaf cross section of a water lily leaf bud (Nupha lutea) (12.5x), Brightfield

Papyrus bundles

Dr. David Maitland, Feltwell, United Kingdom

Vascular bundles of papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) (200x), Differential Interference Contrast

Cell division

Dr. Robert Markus & Dr. Jafar Mahdavi

University of Nottingham, School of Life Sciences, Super Resolution Microscopy Department, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Bacterial DNA and peptide probe binding inside bacteria following division (DNA-YOYO-1: green pixels for high res & purple for wide field; Cy5-probe: yellow pixels for high res & orange for wide field), STORM Super-Resolution Microscopy and Widefield Fluorescence

Bovine heart

Dr. Robert Markus 

University of Nottingham, School of Life Sciences, Super Resolution Microscopy Department, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells (1100x), Structured Illumination Microscopy


Dr. Aleksandar Matkovic

University of Belgrade, Institute of Physics, Center for Solid State Physics and New Materials, Belgrade, Serbia

Gold and titanium electrodes covered by graphene sheet (500x), Brightfield

Ostrich fern

Anatoly Mikhaltsov

Omsk, Russia

Transverse section of an ostrich fern (250x), Brightfield

Mouse embryo

Dr. Tetsuaki Miyake

York University, Department of Biology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Cultured mouse embryo cells (100x), Confocal Live-Cell Imaging (Orthogonal Projection of the Z-Stack Images)


Douglas Moore

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, University Relations and Communications, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA

Fairburn agate from Black Hills of western South Dakota (63x), Fiber Optic Illumination

Tiny organism

Rogelio Moreno Gill

Panama, Panama

Stentor showing the macronucleus and peristome cilia (40x), Brightfield

Water flea

Jacek Myslowski

Wloclawek, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland

Alona guttata (water flea) (200x), Fluorescence

Stressed cells

Robert Newby

Seton Hall University, Department of Biological Sciences, South Orange, New Jersey, USA

Autofluorescence and viability overlay in zinc stressed cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. IU 625. Cells in red are healthy; yellow are impaired; and green are dead (600x), Fluorescence

Sea shells

Caoimhghin Ó Maolagáin

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand

A scatter of foraminifera shells from the sea (40x), Reflected Light

Garnet and magnetite

Dr. Aaron Palke

Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, California, USA

Birefringent andradite garnet with magnetite inclusions (15x), Polarized Light

Rove beetle head

Dr. Joseph Parker

Columbia University, Department of Genetics and Development, New York, New York, USA

Rove beetle head (Tychobythinus sp.) (10x), Confocal

Moth wing scales

Donald Parsons

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Scales on moth wing (300x), Image Stacking


Katherine Pfister

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Xenopus laevis (frog) tadpole- ventral view (10x), Confocal

DNA cell nucleus

Kirti Prakash

Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz, Mainz, Germany

DNA inside cell nucleus, Super-Resolution Microscopy

The changing

Dr. Ariadna Recasens

University of Sydney, Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia

Micrometamorphosis: from human stem cells to neurons (20x), Fluorescence

Fungus mold

Samantha Roberts & Dr. Amy Gladfelter

Dartmouth College, Department of Biological Sciences, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA

Fungus mold (Ashbya gossypii sp.) labeled for intracellular structures (63x), Fluorescence

Photon emission

Rebecca Saleeb, Robert Henderson & Paul Dalgarno

Heriot-Watt University, Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bionengineering, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The single photon emission pattern of a cell in time, Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging

Ocean trash

Dr. Robert B. Simmons

Briarwillow LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Power button of a cellular phone (collected from ocean bottom near Kefalonia, Greece). Features include the remains of encrusting bryozoans and a calcareous tube made by a marine worm (4x), Stereomicroscopy

Fishing net

Dr. Robert B. Simmons

Briarwillow LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Plastic components of a drifting fishing net (ghost net) recovered from the ocean (5x), Stereomicroscopy

Male moth antenna

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Ashburn, Virginia, USA, Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Janelia Farm Research Campus, Leonardo Lab

Antenna of a male moth (Anisota sp.) (100x), Confocal

Blowfly mouth parts

Raymond Morrison Sloss

Quekett Microscope Club, Banbury, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Mouth parts (pseudo trachea) of a Blowfly (Calliphora vomitoria) (750x), Brightfield

Dicot plant root

David Spears

David Spears Imaging, Taunton, Somerset, United Kingdom

Root tip section of a dicot plant (25.5x), Differential Interference Contrast

Mutant cell

Dr. Donna Beer Stolz

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Cell Biology, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Mutant human alpha-1 antitrypsin aggregates (red) exiting the endoplasmic reticulum (green) in an iPS cell differentiated into a liver cell (200x), Confocal Reconstruction

Human muscle

Dr. Tomasz Szul

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Medicine/Pulmonary, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Cross section of a human muscle tissue revealing red blood cells (erythrocytes) inside a blood vessel (600x), Fluorescence, Confocal

Mouse lung

Dr. Shumin Tan

Cornell University, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Ithaca, New York, USA 

Lung tissue from a mouse infected with reporter Mycobacterium tuberculosis, engineered to fluoresce in response to environmental acidity and chloride concentrations (63x), Confocal

Twinned crystals

Dr. Ryoji Tanaka

Microphoto Studio "Cat's Glove," Ebina, Kanagawa, Japan

Twinned crystals of 4, 4'-dibromobiphenyl (25x), Polarized Light, Retardation Control

Living rotifer

Dr. Bernd Walz

University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Living rotifer (Synchaeta sp) (400x), Darkfield

Liquid crystal

Dr. Giuliano Zanchetta

University of Milan, Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine, Milan, Italy

Texture of a chiral thermotropic liquid crystal (20x), Polarized Light


Teresa Zgoda

Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA

Torn photographic film (Fujifilm) (10x), Reflected Light

Suspended particles

Jie Zhang

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA

Janus particles (microparticles) suspended in water between two transparent electrode (40x), Brightfield

Live Science Staff
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