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Timelapse of Dancing Plant Root Wins 2017 Nikon Small World in Motion Competition
By Globenewswire

MELVILLE, N.Y., Sept. 21, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nikon Instruments Inc. today unveiled the winners of the seventh annual Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography Competition, awarding First Place to Daniel von Wangenheim from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria for his time lapse video following the root tip of Arabidopsis thaliana (also known as the Thale cress). The video reflects a time lapse of 17 hours and approximately 4mm of growth. Von Wangenheim and his colleagues are studying how plants perceive and respond to gravity. 

A video accompanying this announcement is available at

“Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients,” said von Wangenheim. “One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions.”

To film the growing root, von Wangenheim and his colleagues, Robert Hauschild, Matyáš Fendrych, Eva Benkova and Ji?í Friml, turned a confocal microscope on its side to provide an upright position. They then placed the plant on a rotation stage, with the root between a coverslip and a block of gel and the leaves exposed to the air. They also implemented a lighting system that simulated ideal growing conditions and a day-night rhythm. As they rotated the plant, they observed how the root would bend downwards each time, sensing gravity.

“The aesthetic craftsmanship and the scientific component of this winning video are truly remarkable. Von Wangenheim and his team have really captured the essence of Nikon Small World in Motion,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments. “As imaging technology continues to advance, it’s videos like this and the rest of our winners that help bring the intricacies of scientific research to the public.”

While the subject of the winning video succumbs to gravity, this year’s second place video is about defying it. To capture a time lapse of a sweating fingertip, Tsutomu Tomita of Shiki, Japan, created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper. Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equally enlightening and cringe-worthy. 

This year’s third place winner, Satoshi Nishimura of Shimotsuke-shi, Japan, captures another fascinating human body phenomenon with his video of leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations as they help heal an injury. While this video depicts the process occurring in a mouse, it provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process.

In addition to First, Second and Third prize winners, Nikon Small World in Motion recognized an additional 25 entries. 

“I like to show people the beauty of our research, and this competition is a great platform to give insight into what we and other scientists are doing. Sharing this insight beyond the scientific community is very important and can also help inspire young people to explore science,” said von Wangenheim.

The 2017 judging panel includes:

  • Dr. Bob Goldman: Chair, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
  • Robert Krulwich: Radio and television journalist who currently serves as a science correspondent for NPR and is a co-host of the award-winning WNYC program Radiolab.
  • Dave Mosher: Science and technology correspondent at Business Insider with more than a decade of digital, print, video, and photo journalism experience.
  • Dr. Clare Waterman: National Institute of Health (NIH) Distinguished Investigator at the Laboratory of Cell and Tissue Morphodynamics.
  • Eric Clark (Moderator): Research Coordinator and Applications Developer at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University.

For additional information, please visit, or follow the conversation on Facebook, Twitter @NikonSmallWorld and Instagram @NikonInstruments.


First Place

Dr. Daniel von Wangenheim
Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Department of Developmental and Cell Biology of Plants
Klosterneuburg, Austria
Live-tracking of a growing root tip of Arabidopsis thaliana, over a period of 17 hours

Second Place
Tsutomu Tomita & Shun Miyazaki
Shiki, Japan
Perspiration on a human fingertip
5x - 40x

Third Place
Dr. Satoshi Nishimura
Jichi Medical University        
Shimotsuke-shi, Japan
Leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations after endothelium injuries, in a living mouse

Fourth Place
Bezia Laderman
Harvard University, Department of Physics
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Purified filamentous microtubules (cyan) and kinesin motor proteins (magenta) forming bundles

Fifth Place
Lisa Tran
University of Pennsylvania, Department of Physics
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Cholesteric liquid crystal shells encapsulating water droplets
Polarized Light
10x (objective lens magnification)


Dr. Gregory Adams Jr.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Melanoma (skin-cancer) non-adhered cells under confinement expressing endoplasmic reticulum (green) and actin (red)

Arturo Agostino
Reggio Calabria, Italy
Amoeba and Heliozoan
Differential Interference Contrast
25x (objective lens magnification)

Dr. Bernardo Cesare & Stefano Castelli
University of Padova, Department of Geosciences
Padova, Italy
Crystals of lactic and salicylic acid forming during drying a drop of a medicament used for removal of common and plantar warts
Polarized Light
10x (objective lens magnification)

Lilian Chen
Tsinghua University
Beijing, China
Migrasome formation in L929 cell

Steven G. Cook
Montgomery, Alabama, USA
Photinus pyralis (firefly) abdomen
10x (objective lens magnification)

David Davis
Mechanicsville, Virginia, USA
Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm) extracted from a patient, depositing eggs
40x and 100x

Dr. Ryo Egawa
Nagoya University, Graduate School of Medicine
Nagoya, Japan
Individually labeled axons in an embryonic chick ciliary ganglion
Confocal, Tissue Clearing, Brainbow (labeling technique)
30x (objective lens magnification)

Lars-Eric Fielmich
Utrecht University, Department of Developmental Biology
Utrecht, The Netherlands
First embryonic division of a nematode worm: the DNA (magenta) of the egg and sperm meet each other and initiate the start of a new life

Ralph Grimm
Jimboomba, Australia
A nematode (tiny type of worm) squeezing a trapped air bubble
Differential Interference Contrast
20x (objective lens magnification)

Raul M. Gonzalez1 & Dr. Carlos Rosas2
2Unidad Multidisciplinaria de Docencia e Investigación de SISAL UNAM
Cuauhtemoc, Mexico
Octopus eggs hatching
Reflected Light

Andrew Melia
Institute of Technical Education, Singapore, Life Sciences Department
Singapore, Singapore
Magnified view of pixels on a smartphone screen displaying animated shapes
Light Microscopy
4x (objective lens magnification)

Anatoly Mikhaltsov
Children’s Ecological and Biological Center, Department of Botany
Omsk, Russia
Infusoria (microscopic aquatic creatures)
Phase Contrast
20x (objective lens magnification)

Dr. Christian Sardet & Noe Sardet
Plankton Chronicles
La Gaude, France
Fertilized sea urchin eggs dividing
Differential Interference Contrast
20x (objective lens magnification)

Dr. Gopi Shah
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Zebrafish embryo development
Light Sheet Microscopy (Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy)

Dr. Photini Sinnis & Dr. Christine Hopp
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Malaria parasites being injected into a mouse by a mosquito

Johann Swanepoel
Northcliff, South Africa
Hydra catching and devouring a mosquito larva

Akanksha Thawani & Dr. Sabine Petry
Princeton University, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Branching microtubules (labeled red with green ends)
Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence

Dr. Alex Valm & Sarah Cohen
University at Albany, SUNY
Albany, New York, USA
Multispectral timelapse image of a monkey kidney cell expressing fluorescent proteins that label six different organelles
Confocal, Spectral imaging

Wim van Egmond
Micropolitan Museum
Zuid Holland, The Netherlands
Malaria mosquito attacked by fungus
Image Stacking

Wim van Egmond
Micropolitan Museum
Zuid Holland, The Netherlands
Floscularia (tube-dwelling rotifers)
Differential Interference Contrast
16x (objective lens magnification)

Dr. Jeffrey A.J. van Haren
UCSF, Wittmann Lab, Department of Cell and Tissue Biology
San Francisco, California, USA
Cargo transport inside nerve cells
60x (objective lens magnification)

Dr. Mostafa Yourdkhani & Shijia Tang
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
Urbana, Illinois, USA
Formation of oil in water emulsions using a flow-focusing microfluidic device
High Speed Microscopy, Brightfield

Karyna Ziankovich
Belarusian State University, Department of Biochemistry
Minsk, Belarus
Equisetum (plant) spores
Brightfield Microscopy, Focus Stacking

About Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition
The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition is open to anyone with an interest in photography or video. Participants may upload digital images and videos directly at For additional information, contact Nikon Small World, Nikon Instruments Inc., 1300 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY 11747, USA or phone (631) 547-8569. Entry forms for Nikon’s 2018 Small World and Small World in Motion Competitions are available at

About Nikon Instruments Inc.
Nikon Instruments Inc. is a world leader in the development and manufacture of optical and digital imaging technology for biomedical applications. Now in its 100th year, Nikon provides complete optical systems that offer optimal versatility, performance and productivity. Cutting-edge instruments include microscopes, digital imaging products and software. Nikon Instruments is one of the microscopy and digital imaging arms of Nikon Inc., the world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology. For more information, visit Product-related inquiries may be directed to Nikon Instruments at 800-52-NIKON.

Media Contact:
Nicole Newby
[email protected] 

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