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Time for your close-up: vivid images of nature loom larger than life

THESE eye-popping pictures showcase the incredible views that can be captured through a microscope. They are two of the winners of the Global Image of the Year Scientific Light Microscopy Award 2022, run by microscope manufacturer Evident.

Laurent Formery at Stanford University in California scooped the top prize for his shot of the nervous system of a juvenile Patiria miniata, or “bat star” starfish (pictured above), that, with its network of fine fibrils, looks like it was plucked from another planet. Formery illuminated the animal’s nerves, which are spread throughout its entire body, by treating the 1-centimetre specimen with an antibody and then artificially colouring the resulting image.

His research focuses on marine invertebrates, particularly echinoderms such as starfish and sea urchins. “We know little about how these animals shape their fivefold body, which is the topic of my research,” he said in a statement. “I’m happy that taking images of them helps communicate how much beauty we have in our oceans, and why it is important to know more about them and protect them.”

Meanwhile, the winning entry for the Americas (pictured above) was taken by Igor Siwanowicz. It shows the germinating pollen grain of a morning glory flower attached to a stigma. The stigma, part of the plant’s reproductive system, fills the bottom part of the image and is covered in projections that help trap the pollen.

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