2019 Photomicrography Competition

A pair of ovaries from an adult Drosophila female stained for F-actin (yellow) and nuclei (green); follicle cells are marked by GFP (magenta)

Dr. Yujun Chen Dr. Jocelyn McDonald

Kansas State University
Department of Biology
Manhattan, Kansas, USA


10x (Objective Lens Magnification)

Drosophila melanogaster is the scientific name of the fruit fly, which has been used as a model organism in biomedical research, especially genetics and neuroscience, for more than a century. Thomas Hunt Morgan used the fly to prove the chromosomal theory of inheritance, a finding for which he received the Nobel Prize.

Drosophila shares 60 percent of human DNA. Some genes have been conserved over millions of years of evolution and can be studied easily and rapidly in flies because insects are easy to handle, inexpensive to culture and have a short life cycle, making the fly a powerful tool for research that has led to important discoveries in cancer, autism, diabetes, and many other human conditions.

The Drosophila female reproductive system, pictured in this photo, is anatomically similar to the human counterpart and some of the genes involved in ovulation in the fly are the same required for ovulation in mammals, therefore Drosophila is also a valuable model for understanding the biology of some ovarian cell types and their contribution to cancer formation.

In Their Own Words

A Q&A with Nikon Small World winner Dr. Yujun Chen.

What is the subject matter of your winning image and why did you choose this image?

Packaging of egg chambers. This image shows the complexity and beauty of how different stages of egg chambers are packed and developed. I chose this particular image because the ovaries are well preserved.

What are the special techniques and/or challenges faced in creating this photomicrograph?

The challenge was to get a well-dissected sample and nice immunostaining.

What is your primary line of work?

I work as a postdoc to discover new details about collective cell migration.

How long have you been taking photographs through a microscope? What first sparked your interest in photomicrography?

For the past three years. I was stricken by the unexpected beauty of small things.

Why did you enter the Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition? What do you think of the competition?

Because it is the place where the most stunning images are being displayed. I think the competition is pushing people to capture the best pictures of our planet.