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Tiny Carnivorous Plant Humped Bladderwort Wins 10th Annual Olympus BioScapes Imaging Competition

Microscopic carnivorous plant image wins at 10th annual Olympus BioScapes Imaging Competition

Humped Bladderwort

Humped Bladderwort wins 10th annual Olympus BioScapes Imaging Competition
Image at Olympus

The Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.  The competition showcases exceptional images and video of life sciences captured through light microscopes.

More than 2,100 images and movies from 71 different countries were submitted to this year’s competition.  The winner of the competition produced the beautiful image of the humped bladderwort depicted above.

The winner, Dr. Igor Siwanowicz has been in photography for 10 years, and owns a large collection of photographs similar to the humped bladderwort above.  It was reported that, “Igor Siwanowicz, a neurobiologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus … magnified the plant 100 times using a laser scanning confocal microscope and used cellulose-binding fluorescent dye Calcofluor White to visualize the cell walls of the plant,” in a press release.

The humped bladderwort, or Utricularia gibba, has some features in common with a Venus Fly Trap.  The humped bladderwort is a minute, mat-forming, carnivorous, aquatic bladderwort.  This tiny plant  is found either affixed to the substrate in shallow water, or free-floating.  It forms a mat of criss crossing branches that typically grow to eight inches long and 0.2 to 1 millimeter thick.

The traps on the humped bladderwort are microscopic, making them a perfect subject for the Olympus BioScapes Imaging Competition.  The average size of a trap from a humped bladderwort is 1 to 2.5 millimeters long.

The image above depicts the open trap of the humped bladderwort with single cell organisms inside.  The technique used was confocal imaging.  This technique is “used to increase optical resolution and contrast of a micrograph by using point illumination and a spatial pinhole to eliminate out-of-focus light in specimens that are thicker than the focal plane,” states Wikipedia.

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