An eye-catching image of a fruit fly embryo, which was taken by a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield, has beaten-off stiff competition from hundreds of entries to win an award at a special photographic competition dedicated to biodiversity.
Samantha Warrington, a postgraduate student from the University's Department of Biomedical Science, scooped the winning prize in the 'close-up category' at the Society of Biology's Photographic Competition.
Her image captured the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) embryo when it was approximately 20 hours old and shows the anterior (head end) to the left and three cell membrane proteins which are fluorescently labelled in blue, green and red. The image was taken during Samantha's research on a confocal light microscope, which allows fly embryos - which are the size of the eye of a needle - to be magnified and explored in greater detail.
As the photo is a cross-section through the embryo, the outer layer (the epidermis) can be seen in green. At the back end of the embryo are two large round holes (the spiracles), which are required for breathing. The blue branched structure running along the top edge of the embryo is part of the tracheal system, a network of tubes that carry air from the spiracles to internal tissues. Other structures visible inside the embryo are parts of the gut and nervous system, including the hindgut, which is a distinctive shepherd's crook shape in green.
The competition was organised to mark and celebrate the UN designating 2010 the 'International Year of Biodiversity.' Entrants were free to submit entries they believed celebrated, explored, commented on or revealed aspects of biodiversity from around the world.
Categories in the competition included land, air, water and close-ups, which focused on biodiversity unseen by the naked eye.
Samantha, who often documents her research with photographs and enjoys taking pictures o
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