Researchers are constantly inventing new techniques to push the limits of light microscopy. Here are four spectacular examples.
Portrait of a biter
“I found this common green lacewing larva (image above) biting my hand after a walk outside”, says the photographer. After slicing it through the middle, he stained it with fluorescence-tagged phalloidin, a death cap toxin that binds to actin, the protein responsible for muscle contraction (shown in blue).
The cell and its skeleton
A COS-7 cell derived from the kidney of an African green monkey shows the intricacies of the actin skeleton. This network of protein fibres forms the cytoskeleton inside a cell, contributing to the cell’s movement.
A fly is born
A three-hour-old fly embryo is made of 6,000 cells. The colour tags each cell nucleus and shows its velocity (cyan to orange: 0-0.8 m/min). The picture is from a video recording the development of the embryo, which usually remains alive in the microscope.
12 fat spheres
These soap-like bubbles of fat (liposomes) were extracted from the surface of human lung alveoli, whose opening and closing they assist during breathing. The colours show the heterogeneity of the arrangement of their compounds (fats and proteins).