It's time for that annual celebration of Lilliputian loveliness: The Nikon Small World
contest for photomicrographers has announced its winners. Here we present our favorite images from the top 20, along with the interviews we conducted with many of these meticulous photographers.Jonas King
Vanderbilt University, Department of Biological Sciences
This winning image in the Nikon Small World competition shows a mosquito heart and its supporting muscles in extreme close-up. King explained to DISCOVER exactly what his image shows: "The green structures are the muscles and the blue dots are cell nuclei. The narrow tube running from left to right is the actual heart of the mosquito and the fan shaped structures are called alary muscles."
King's images of the mosquito heart's structure help researchers understand how these disease-bearing pests transport nutrients, hormones, and even pathogens such as malaria through their bodies; his team has published their findings in The Journal of Experimental Biology
and PLoS ONE
King says he has always taken an interest in art and music, and says he gravitated to a field of science that included artistic elements. This mosquito heart photo certainly brings his enthusiasms together. "I think what makes this photo so cool to me is the shocking amount of symmetry and delicate details of the heart's musculature," he says.