Nikon Instruments Inc. has revealed the winners of the fifth annual Small World in Motion Photomicrography competition. Each year winners are selected from a range of different videos, showing incredible scenes from under a microscope.
This year's outright winner is Wim van Egmond, of the Micropolitan Museum in the Netherlands. He managed to video a ciliate predator – a type of protozoan – munching on its prey. He found the micro-organisms in a scoop of water from his garden pond, and luckily had his camera at the ready when he realised what was about to happen.
"Wildlife is so close to us, yet most of us never look close enough to see it. A pool in your garden is actually a miniature underwater jungle teeming with life," said Van Egmond. "If you want to see the world, your backyard is a great place to start."
Van Egmond is a previous winner of a Nikon Instruments competition, as he achieved first place with this photograph of a diatom in the 2013 siste -competition Small World, which uses a similar idea to this competition but with still photographs instead of videos.
Eric Flem, communications manager at Nikon Instruments, said: "Wim exemplifies the evolution of Small World over the years, as technological advances push our ability to see and discover the world forward, and video takes center stage." He added: "Beyond still images, video has become a powerful tool for artists and scientists to show the life and movement they see under the microscope every day.
Judges for this year's competition consisted of Tim Mitchison from Harvard Medical School, Hari Shroff from the National Institute of Biomedical Imagine and Bioengineering and Ernie Mastroianni of Discover Magazine.
The two runners-up in the competition were Danielle Parsons and Gonzalo Avila. Parsons, of Wonder Science TV, recorded the contents of a termite gut on her way to second place, complete with hundreds of single-celled Trichonympha – the organisms that help break down wood and plant fibres for the termite. As a science communicator, Parsons' inspiration for choosing her recording came from her fascination with the endosymbiotic partnership that the species have developed over a long period of time.
Avila, from the University of Auckland, achieved third place in the competition with his microscope video of the parasitoid larvae Cotesia urabae breaking out of its host and beginning its pupation. The video was sped up by 64 times, to change a process that could take hours into just a matter of seconds.
Flem hopes that the competition will inspire others to grab a microscope and enjoy the science of microbiology.
Anybody can enter the Nikon Small World Photomicrobiology Competition, regardless of scientific background. Submit your images to www.nikonsmallworld.com in a traditional 35mm format, or as a digital photograph/video.