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Nikon's Small World In Motion 2015 Winners

We saw the beautiful microphotography of the 2015 Nikon Small World Photography Competition only a couple of months ago. Today, Nikon has announced the winners of its other competition, called Small World in Motion. This contest brought entries from all over the world of the microscopic world in video form. 

The Small World Photography competition has been goign since 1975, and the Small World in Motion Competition was added in 2011 to recognize excellence in video microphotography, whether it is time-lapse, compressed time, or a straight movie. All types of light microscopy techniques are accepted: phase contrast, polarized light, fluorescence, interference contrast, darkfield, confocal, deconvolution, and mixed techniques. Each gives us a look at the tiny worlds around us we’d never see otherwise.

First Place Winner


Mr. Wim van Egmond
Micropolitan Museum
Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands
Tracheliusciliate feeding on a Campanella ciliate
250x

First Place was awarded to veteran winner Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum in The Netherlands. Judges were impressed with the thrilling glimpse of microscopic wildlife van Egmond captured in this video of predator and prey: The ciliate Trachelius feeding on another ciliate, the bell animalcule Campanella. The microorganisms in this slow-moving attack were scooped out of a friend’s backyard pond, as van Egmond hoped to inspire her to take more interest in her microscope. Luckily he had his camera ready when he recognized the predator and prey so close together, capturing a real-time recording when the attack began. Wildlife is so close to us, yet most of us never look close enough to see it, said van Egmond. A pool in your garden is actually a miniature underwater jungle teeming with life. If you want to see the world, your backyard is a great place to start.

How it was captured
Van Egmond knew that the favorite meal of the ciliate Trachelius ovum is bell animalcules, a type of ciliate that lives on a stalk. In the past he had already tried to put them together in a slide but had never seen the actual feeding happening. They are not the easiest prey because they can contract with tremendous speed. When he finally did succeed in capturing the moment it was actually not his intention. He was just going through a slide when he noticed a Trachelius next to a bell animalcule. He started filming but in the beginning nothing happened. He was about to stop when it suddenly moved towards the bell animalcule and started to devour it.

About the Winner 
Wim van Egmond is a freelance photographer who has been photographing through the microscope for 22 years. Mr. van Egmond is also a veteran Small World winner, including first place in the 2012 Nikon Small World still competition. In recent years he has put more time in moving images, thanks to advancing DSLR video capabilities that allow him to capture movement and behavior of microorganisms. "For me, microscopy is about exploring living organisms - so you should see them alive and moving," said van Egmond.


Second Place
Miss Danielle Parsons
Wonder Science TV
Los Angeles, United States
Gut contents of a termite, containing hundreds of species of single-celled parabasalid microorganisms (Trichonympha)
Darkfield
40x & 100x

About the Video
Second place in the 2015 Nikon Small World in Motion competition went to Danielle Parsons of Wonder Science TV in the United States. Her video provides a glimpse into the roiling gut contents of a termite, including the organisms that help break down wood for their termite hosts. The darkfield microscopy Parsons employed affords dramatic lighting effects and a bold color palate, resulting in an almost cinematic quality of the video.

"The fact that these are mutually beneficial relationships was appealing," said Parsons. "I think it's important to highlight examples of harmony in nature, and counterbalance a media climate that celebrates fear, disaster and conflict in nature. I think my video is significant in so far as it promotes the wonder of nature."

About the Winner
Danielle Parsons is a science communicator and visual artist. The primary outlet for her work is her  YouTube channel, Wonder Science TV. She researches, writes, films and edits videos about specific  topics spanning a range of scientific disciplines.


Third Place
Mr. Gonzalo Avila
University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand
A parasitoid larva (Cotesia urabae) breaking out of its host (Uraba lugens) and then spinning its cocoon to start pupation
10x

About the Video/Technique
Gonzalo Avila of Auckland claimed third place for his mesmerizing yet horrifying video of a parasitoid wasp larva breaking out of its host and spinning its cocoon. Grim as this parasitism process appears, these wasps play a critical role in controlling the population of the aptly named Gum-Leaf Skeletoniser moth - a pest causing serious damage to Eucalyptus in Australia and New Zealand. While the process of the larva slowly breaking out of its host body can take several hours, Avila’s video is played at 64x speed to show the escape in a matter of skin-crawling seconds.  

The hardest part for Avila was to synchronise with the correct time that the parasitoid was going to start breaking out from the host. "The rearing process of this parasitoid is quite challenging and time demanding, as well as the manipulation of parasitoids when emerging from hosts. Most of people don't know about the role of insect parasitoids on controlling agricultural and forestry insect pests. When an endoparasitoid successfully develops into its host body, it starts slowly breaking out of its host for and the process may take several hours," said Avila. "As it takes quite a long time to happen, most of time researchers cannot appreciate how this whole process occurs and how fascinating it may be to see the whole process in just a few minutes."

About the Winner
Avila is currently finishing his PhD at the University of Auckland, and is doing his research on the

behavioural ecology and host-parasitoid interactions of the biological control agent Cotesia urabae. He wanted to show the audience one of the fascinating aspects of the parasitism process by parasitoid wasps, and particularly Cotesia urabae which is the species he is working with on his PhD research.

Honorable Mention
Dr. Jing Yan, Jie Zhang &  Dr. Steve Granick
Princeton University
Princeton, United States
Janus colloids, micron sized particles that spontaneously move in an AC electric field
40x


Honorable Mention
Dr. Paolo Annibale & Enrico Gratton
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, United States
Fluorescently labeled chromatin array (LacI-mCherry: red) and mRNA (MS2-EGFP: green) in U2OS 263 cells following Dox induction (+30′). Discrete Petals of mRNA synthesis are clearly
visible moving on the surface of the transgene array
Confocal
60x


Honorable Mention
Dr. Alireza Abbaspourrad
Cornell University
Ithaca, United States
Structural emulsions containing nutrients releasing its contents upon exposure to a simulated
gastric fluid
40x

Honorable Mention
Dr. Annie Lu & Dr. Srinivasa Raghavan
University of Maryland
College Park, United States
Chitosan capsules containing platinum reacting with hydrogen peroxide under a glass slide
2x


Honorable Mention
Dr. Abigail Tucker & Dr. Marcia Gaete
King's College London
London, United Kingdom
Mouse whisker follicle development in culture
Stereomicroscopy
6.3x


Honorable Mention
Mr. Ralph Grimm
Jimboomba, Australia
Rotifer (Lepadella triba) feeding
1000x

Honorable Mention
Dr. Daisuke Kurihara
Nagoya University
Nagoya, Japan
Thale cress plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) embryogenesis
Confocal
30x

Honorable Mention
Dr. Michael Weber  
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
Dresden, Germany
Cardiovascular system of a 4 day old zebrafish
20x


Honorable Mention
Mr. Michael Evers
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, United States
A human dermal fibroblast tissue phantom ablated by a 5 ns long laser pulse
3.05x


Honorable Mention
Ms. Haripriya Mukundarajan, Vivek N. Prakash, Nicolas Harmand & Manu Prakash
Stanford University
Stanford, United States
Cyanobacterium (Oscillatoria princeps) filaments
Brightfield
100x


Honorable Mention
Dr. John Hart
University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Boulder, United States
Soap film
10x-50x


Honorable Mention
Mr. Wim van Egmond
Micropolitan Museum
Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands
Water flea (Ilyocryptus)
100x


Honorable Mention
Mr. Gerd-A. Günther
Unicellular ciliates (Paramecium caudatum and Frontonia leucas)
Differential Interference Contrast (first sequence) and Polarized Light (second sequence)
300x


Honorable Mention
Mr. Wim van Egmond  
Micropolitan Museum
Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands
Penicillium fungi growth, showing hypha, spore production and guttation droplets
10x

Honorable Mention
Dr. Luigia Santella, A. Puppo, JT Chun, G. Gragnaniello & E. Garante
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn
Naples, Italy
Intracellular calcium increase and sperm incorporation following fertilization of a starfish egg
70x60um

If you are interested in entering the 2016 Small World in Motion competition, see the Small World website.

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