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Emerging Staghorn Coral Polyp Video Wins 2019 Nikon Small World in Motion Competition
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, December 17, 2019 @ 11:00 PM (EST)


It was pretty cool seeing a fluorescent turtle embryo winning this year’s Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. But its sister contest—the Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition—has some even cooler eye candy to blow your mind. The top spot was captured by a fascinating video of a polyp emerging from a reef-building staghorn coral (Acropora muricata), which was shot by Dr. Philippe Laissue from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex, U.K.

With corals being extremely light sensitive, Laissue had to develop a custom microscope that used a low-light technique that would not bother the sample corals. The video also shows the magenta-colored algae living inside the coral in a symbiotic relationship. 

“Coral reefs are in alarming decline due to climate change, pollution and other human-made disturbances,” said the biologist and assistant professor. “I hope this video shows people the beauty of these organisms while raising awareness of their decline. We are working to better understand corals and their complex relationships with algae and other organisms. Hopefully we can contribute to finding the best ways to protect and conserve the coral reefs for future generations.”

Dr. Richard Kirby took second place for his film of parasites (Vampyrophrya) swimming around inside their dead host copepod, while Tommy and Jesse Gunn were awarded third place for their video of a Stylonychia microorganism creating a water vortex using its cilia.
 

Emerging Acropora muricata (staghorn coral) polyp (coral tissue in green; algae in magenta) by Dr. Philippe P. Laissue
 

Vampyrophrya (parasite) tomites swimming rapidly around within the body of the dead copepod host by Dr. Richard R. Kirby
 

Stylonychia (microorganism) creating a water vortex using its cilia by Tommy Gunn and Jesse Gunn
 

Two freshwater tardigrades feeding on another tardigrade by Dr. Hunter N. Hines
 

Developing mouse embryo, showing the progression of neural tube folding and closure by Dr. Kate McDole and Dr. Philipp Keller

 

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