2022 Photomicrography Competition

Embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis)

Dr. Grigorii Timin Dr. Michel Milinkovitch

University of Geneva
Department of Genetics and Evolution
Geneva, Switzerland
63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Grigorii Timin, supervised by Dr. Michel Milinkovitch at the University of Geneva, won the 2022 Small World Photmicroraphy Competition for his remarkable image of an embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko. Masterfully blending imaging technology and artistic creativity, Timin utilized high-resolution microscopy and image-stitching to capture this species of Phelsuma grandis day gecko.

A visually stunning and painstaking technique, Timin used image-stitching to merge hundreds of images together to create the final image of his gecko. Preparing the sample was an added challenge. Timin performed whole-mount fluorescent staining and tissue clearing to capture the entire embryonic hand with a confocal microscope. “This embryonic hand is about 3 mm (0.12 in) in length, which is a huge sample for high-resolution microscopy,” said Timin. “The scan consists of 300 tiles, each containing about 250 optical sections, resulting in more than two days of acquisition and approximately 200 GB of data.”

The final result gives a glimpse into the hidden beauty and complexity of the gecko, highlighting the nerves in a cyan color and the bones, tendons, ligaments, skin and blood cells in a range of warmer colors. “This particular image is beautiful and informative, as an overview and also when you magnify it in a certain region, shedding light on how the structures are organized on a cellular level,” said Timin. He went on to say, “The Nikon Small World Competition is a great opportunity to share how impressive nature is on a microscopic level, not only within a scientific community but also with the general public.”