Science is the poetry of Nature.

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Posts tagged "microscopy"


By Dr. Sonja Pyott
Department of Biology and Marine Biology
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Wilmington, NC, USA
Specimen: Cochlea and Hair Cells
Technique: Confocal

This confocal microscopy image of the organ of Corti is just stunning. Judges at the Olympus Bioscapes Digital Imaging Competition thought so too, and awarded Dr. Sonja Pyott 4th prize in the contest. For an even larger, more hi-res version, go here. Winners receive Olympus microscopes and other prizes! Guess who the 1st place winner is? Yeah, its the Brainbow mouse, which I discussed in a previous post.

The image above is of the normal mammalian organ of Corti, which is the epithelium which contains the sensory cells of the ear. Those cells are hair cells, which are stained green here with (I’m guessing) fluorescent phalloidin, which tags actin in the hair cells. The inner hair cells are in the lower left, and the three rows of outer hair cells are to the upper right. Nuclei of the inner hair cells are blue, which I’m guessing is DAPI. The spindly red things are the neurons, which are synapsing on the inner hair cells’ surface. The spiky things shooting out of the top of the inner hair cells are the stereocilia (which are made of actin, so green) which project into the fluid filled space above the organ of Corti. When sound waves are picked up by the ear canal and focused into the cochlea, the basilar membrane vibrates, causing the stereocilia to bend, which depolarizes the hair cells.


Dr. David Maitland

Feltwell, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Specimen: Cocoa nut palm (Cocos comosa) stem with xylem vessel “eyes” in vascular bundle “faces.”
Technique: Differential interference contrast


microscopic bone marrow transplant — hematopoietic stem cells (the immortal source of both red and white blood cells) poised in a syringe for transplant

colored SEM composite image

credit: Steve Gschmeissner


Freshwater ciliate Colpidium campylum (400x) 

These are freshwater ciliates of the species Colpidium campylum, characterized by its kidney-shaped cell. The cilia of this protozoan are arranged in rows, and inside you can see the two nuclei that are characteristic of many other ciliates, a more or less central macronucleus, and one micronucleus, slightly smaller.

Because it feeds on bacteria, Colpidium campylum is a microorganism involved in the process of self-purification of water. When the concentration of bacteria is very high in the water, and consequently food is abundant, the population of this protozoan multiplies. So, this species is regarded as a test-microorganism and is used in bioassays with a broad range of applications for single toxicants and contaminant mixtures, such as effluents.

[Protozoa - Ciliophora - Hymenostomatida - Tetrahymenidae - ColpidiumColpidium campylum Stokes]

Technique: Interference Contrast.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Proyecto Agua | Locality: from a water sample collected in the Ebro river as it passes through Logroño river, La Rioja, Spain (2008)


Fluorescence image of an anther from an Arabidopsis thaliana transgenic plant producing a mitochondria-targeted GFP specifically in the tapetum. The red fluorescence is the auto-fluorescence of chlorophyll, the green fluorescence corresponds to GFP.


Streptococcus gordonii invading host cells

The non-pathogenic non-invasive Streptococcus gordonii (red) is a common and harmless commensal bacterium of the oral human mucosa. By membrane-bound expression of the pathogenicity factor SfbI (Streptococci Fibronectin-binding Protein I) S. goordonii becomes an invasive bacterium.

Courtesy of Prof. Dr. Rohde, HZI Braunschweig



This scanning electron microscope image of a grain of sea salt [left] and a peppercorn [right] was the winner in the 2005 Visions of Science Photographic Awards. Salt (NaCl) is essential to life as it regulates the amount of water in our bodies.

Image: David McCarthy and Annie Cavanagh



Mouse kidney

Mouse kidney section stained with Alexa Fluor 488 wheat germ agglutinin, Alexa Fluor 568 phalloidin and DAPI.

Image courtesy of Dr. Muthugapatti Kandasamy, Director of the Biomedical Microscopy Core. University of Georgia


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Although GFP by name, GFP can many colours other than green. These forms are entirely synthetic variations of the wild-type GFP. By doing this researchers have modified the action of GFP beyond its original activity therefore creating entirely novel protein using GFP as a precursor.

(via betterknowamicrobe)


3D co-culture used to create a microvascular niche. Seen above are human umbilical vein endothelial cells (red immunostaining of CD31), lung fibroblasts expressing alpha-smooth muscle actin (cyan), and T4-2 breast cancer cells (green).

Weigelt & Bissell. (2014) The need for complex 3D culture models to unravel novel pathways and identify accurate biomarkers in breast cancer, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews.


The Worm Wagon

The top image in this trio shows a close up of an adult Trichuris muris, a whipworm parasite. Here the worm is seen under an electron microscope but more commonly this type of worm is seen taking residence in the large intestine of its host. 

In the second image you can see illustrations of Schistosoma mansoni by Paul Evans © 2012. This parasite lives in the blood and lays thousands of eggs which result in tissue damage and even death.

BBSRC-funded Sheena Cruickshank (centre of picture) and Professor Kathryn Else (right), are lecturers at The University of Manchester who specialise in studying parasites. Both are co-founders, with Dr Jo Pennock (left), of the outreach activity called The Worm Wagon: an exhibition that is part of the BBSRC’s 20th Anniversary Festival. This exhibit will focus on explaining how people catch infections and the global significance of these infections.

When not on the Worm Wagon their day to day research tries to understand the biology and immunology of parasite infection. Part of Sheena’s research is finding markers we can use to help diagnose patients who respond badly to infection and those who don’t. Professor Else concentrates more on vaccine research and how the damage caused by infection is regulated.

This research is vital considering the biggest killer of people under 50 is infection.

Images of Trichuris muris from Uta Rossler, Richard Grencis and Toby Starborg FLS, UoM.

Image of researchers by Mark Waugh, UoM.

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Pictured above are the three winners of the 2013 GE Healthcare Cell Imaging Competition.


13th Prize - Dr Michael Nelson and Samantha Smith

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Specimen: Mouse vertebra section (200x)
Technique: Focus Stacking


Top 5 misconceptions about evolution: A guide to demystify the foundation of modern biology.

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Drosophila Heart by Girish C. Melkani

"Amyloid-like inclusions have been associated with Huntington’s disease, and patients exhibit a high incidence of cardiovascular events. Melkani and colleagues generated a Drosophila (fruit fly) model of cardiac amyloidosis. It displays accumulation of mutant Huntingtin aggregates and oxidative stress in myocardial cells upon heart-specific expression of Huntingtin protein fragments with disease-causing poly-glutamine repeats. Using genetic manipulation, the authors showed that modulation of both protein unfolding, and oxidative stress pathways, is required to ameliorate the detrimental mutant Huntingtin defects. The image shows reduced and disorganized myosin- (pink) and actin- (cyan) containing myofibrils along with mutant Huntingtin positive aggregates (green) in the heart."

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