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See The Tiny Carnivorous Monster That Just Won Olympus's Micro Photo Prize

Igor Siwanowicz's amazing photo of a hungry bladderwort takes top prize in the Olympus BioScapes Photo Competition. See the other mini marvels here.

  • <p>Specimen: Open trap of aquatic carnivorous plant, humped bladderwort <em>Utricularia gibba</em>, with single-cell organisms inside.<br />
Technique: Confocal imaging, 100x</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Embryo of black mastiff bat <em>Molossus rufus</em>.<br />
Technique: Stereo microscopy</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Single-cell fresh water algae (desmids). Composite image including, concentric from the outside: <em>Micrasterias rotata, Micrasterias sp., M. furcata, M. americana, 2x M. truncata, Euastrum sp. and Cosmarium sp.</em><br />
Technique: Confocal imaging, 400x</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Lily flower bud, transverse section.<br />
Technique: Darkfield illumination, stitched images</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Mouse embryonic fibroblasts showing actin filaments (red), mitochondria (green) and DNA (blue).<br />
Technique: Structured illumination microscopy (SIM) fluorescence, acquired with a 60x objective</p>
  • <p>Specimen: "Brother bugs." <em>Gonocerus acuteangulatus</em>, two hours old. Size 3mm.</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Phantom midge larva (<em>Chaoborus</em>) "Glassworm." Birefringent musculature that is usually clear and colorless is made visible here by specialized illumination.<br />
Technique: Polarized light, 100X</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Mouse tail whole mounts showing hair follicle stem cells and proliferating cells.<br />
Technique: Confocal imaging</p>
  • <p>Specimen: Head and legs of a caddisfly larva: <em>Sericostoma sp.</em>, a benthic macroinvertebrate that can be used for freshwater biomonitoring; because it is relatively sensitive to organic pollution and dies if water is dirty, it is a good indicator of water quality.<br />
Technique: Stereo microscopy, 15x</p>
  • 01 /10 | Ashburn, Virginia, United States

    Specimen: Open trap of aquatic carnivorous plant, humped bladderwort Utricularia gibba, with single-cell organisms inside.
    Technique: Confocal imaging, 100x

  • 02 /10 | Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

    Specimen: Embryo of black mastiff bat Molossus rufus.
    Technique: Stereo microscopy

  • 03 /10 | Ashburn, Virginia, United States

    Specimen: Single-cell fresh water algae (desmids). Composite image including, concentric from the outside: Micrasterias rotata, Micrasterias sp., M. furcata, M. americana, 2x M. truncata, Euastrum sp. and Cosmarium sp.
    Technique: Confocal imaging, 400x

  • 04 /10 | Staffordshire, United Kingdom

    Specimen: Lily flower bud, transverse section.
    Technique: Darkfield illumination, stitched images

  • 05 /10 | Bethesda, Maryland, United States

    Specimen: Mouse embryonic fibroblasts showing actin filaments (red), mitochondria (green) and DNA (blue).
    Technique: Structured illumination microscopy (SIM) fluorescence, acquired with a 60x objective

  • 06 /10 | Basel, Switzerland

    Specimen: "Brother bugs." Gonocerus acuteangulatus, two hours old. Size 3mm.

  • 07 /10 | Issaquah, Washington, United States

    Specimen: Phantom midge larva (Chaoborus) "Glassworm." Birefringent musculature that is usually clear and colorless is made visible here by specialized illumination.
    Technique: Polarized light, 100X

  • 08 /10 | New York, NY USA

    Specimen: Mouse tail whole mounts showing hair follicle stem cells and proliferating cells.
    Technique: Confocal imaging

  • 09 /10 | Caen, France

    Specimen: Head and legs of a caddisfly larva: Sericostoma sp., a benthic macroinvertebrate that can be used for freshwater biomonitoring; because it is relatively sensitive to organic pollution and dies if water is dirty, it is a good indicator of water quality.
    Technique: Stereo microscopy, 15x

  • 10 /10 | Jimboomba Queensland, Australia

    Specimen: Paramecium, showing contractile vacuole and ciliary motion.
    Technique: Differential interference contrast, 350x-1000x

"Humped bladderwort" may sound like something from the imagination of J.K. Rowling, but in fact, it's a real aquatic plant, found on all continents except Antarctica. It's also carnivorous—which makes it that much more Potteresque. A hapless microinvertebrate floating by the plant's miniature leaves could easily end up as bladder breakfast.

Today, the bladderwort is about to grab the stage from its more popular insect-eating flora. Igor Siwanowicz, a scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus, has just won first prize in the 2013 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition for his photograph of the bladderwort in mid bite.

Specimen: Open trap of aquatic carnivorous plant, humped bladderwort Utricularia gibba, with single-cell organisms inside. Technique: Confocal imaging, 100x Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Siwanowicz's photo was one of 2,100 still images and movies submitted for the competition from researchers in 71 countries. Though he spends most of his time imaging dragonfly anatomy, he has now managed to give the little-known bladderwort the notoriety it rightly deserves. Take that Venus Fly Trap!

Other winners from this year's competition include the embryo of a black mastiff bat, a phantom midge larva, and a single-cell freshwater algae—which looks a lot more interesting than it sounds.

A series of winning photographs from the contest will be featured in exhibits around the U.S., Italy, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Asia, and the Middle East next year. For now, see the top images in the gallery above.

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Dr. Igor Siwanowicz; 02 / Miss Dorit Hockman; 03 / Dr. Igor Siwanowicz; 04 / Mr. Spike Walker; 05 / Dr. Dylan Burnette; 06 / Mr. Kurt Wirz; 07 / Mr. Charles Krebs; 08 / Dr. Yaron Fuchs; 09 / Mr. Fabrice Parais; 10 / Mr. Ralph Grimm;

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