Nikon Metrology

Zebrafish “cell-fie” takes first place in Nikon Small World competition 2016

Microscopes, Nikon Metrology

The annual Nikon Small World competition encourages scientists, photographers and hobbyists from around the world to showcase proficiency and photographic excellence of photography taken under the microscope. In this article you can find a selection of the top entries including the winning zebrafish face.

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1st Place – Dr. Oscar Ruiz | The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA | Four-day-old zebrafish embryo – Confocal 10x


Dr. Ruiz brings the world face-to-face with his research on facial development and cellular morphogenesis with his winning image of a four-day-old zebrafish embryo. Dr. Ruiz uses the zebrafish to study genetic mutations that lead to facial abnormalities such as cleft lip and palate in humans in the lab of Dr. George Eisenhoffer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

The judges were intrigued by Ruiz’s innovative techniques to capture time-lapse images of the developing zebrafish face. Using the time-lapse as a guide, Ruiz is creating an atlas of the development of the zebrafish face. His group is tracking physical landmarks throughout development to create a series of metrics that can be used to accurately describe the cellular movements that occur during the normal development of the face.  These metrics can then be used to identify abnormalities in the development of zebrafish harbouring specific genetic mutations identified in human patients.  He hopes that these findings will help provide insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are altered in patients with facial deformities.

“Until now, these facial abnormalities had not been extensively studied in a live context where you can see what’s happening during development in real-time,” said Ruiz. “Using a live-imaging approach means we can better understand and pinpoint exactly how and why these developmental abnormalities occur. The first step is knowing how it happens, then we can figure out how to fix it.”



Top Five Images:

1. Oscar Ruiz, Four-day-old zebrafish embryo

2. Douglas Moore, Polished slab of Teepee Canyon Agate

3. Rebecca Nutbrown, Culture of neurons derived from human skin cells

4. Jochen Schroeder, Butterfly proboscis

5. Igor Siwanowicz, Front foot (tarsus) of a male diving beetle



Below are a selection some other stand out images from the competition. To see the whole collection of Honorable Mentions, Images of Distinction and the top 20, visit the Nikon Small World 2016 Competition page.

Keep up with Nikon Small World images by following @NikonInstruments on Instagram.



Image of Distinction – Erno Endre Gergley | Azorean Biodiversity Group, Miercurea Ciuc, Harghita, Romania | Green bottle fly – Image Stacking 10x


15th Place - Geir Drange | Asker, Norway  Head section of an orange ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata)  (Reflected Light/Focus Stacking 10x)

15th Place – Geir Drange | Asker, Norway | Head section of an orange ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) – Reflected Light/Focus Stacking 10x



Honorable Mention – Marek Mis | Marek Mis Photography, Suwalki, Podlaskie, Poland | Leg of a water boatman (Corixidae) – Polarized Light, Darkfield 25x



19th Place – Dr. Gist F. Croft, Lauren Pietilla, Stephanie Tse, Dr. Szilvia Galgoczi, Maria Fenner, Dr. Ali H. Brivanlou | Rockefeller University, Brivanlou Laboratory, New York, New York, USA | Human neural rosette primordial brain cells, differentiated from embryonic stem cells – Confocal 10x


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13th Place – Walter Piorkowski | South Beloit, Illinois, USA | Poison fangs of a centipede (Lithobius erythrocephalus) – Fiber Optic Illumination/Image Stacking 16x


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12th Place – Dr. Dylan Burnette | Vanderbilt University School of Medicine | Nashville, Tennessee, USA | Human HeLa cell undergoing cell division (cytokinesis). DNA (yellow), myosin II (blue) and actin filaments (red) – Structured Illumination 60x




As a world leader in imaging technology since 1917, Nikon Instruments manufactures complete optical and digital microscope systems with outstanding versatility, performance and productivity for any application. Take a look at the Nikon Metrology range of microscopes here.