Mosquito Heart Captures First Place in 2010 Nikon Small World Competition

What looks like the familiar green lines of a heart monitor printout in a textured navy blue sea is actually a close-up of a mosquito heart, and the winner of the 2010 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. Jonas King, from Nashville, Tennessee, USA, took the photo of anopheles gambiae (mosquito heart) magnified 100 times and using fluorescence technology. The image is both beautiful and scientifically significant, as it is used in King’s research on how mosquitoes carry and transmit pathogens including malaria.

Nikon Small World recognizes King’s image, along with the other winners from this year, for showing the duality of how photomicrographs can carry both scientific and artistic qualities. This year’s competition received more than 2,200 entries this year - a new record - from scientists and artists across the world.

“Mosquitoes remain one of the greatest scourges of mankind and this image of the mosquito heart helps us understand how they transport nutrients, hormones, and even pathogens such as malaria throughout their bodies,” said King, a researcher at Vanderbilt University. “I’m happy that such an important and aesthetically pleasing image was selected as the winner of the Nikon Small World competition, which in my mind is the most respected competition devoted entirely to microscopy.”

Celebrating its 36th year, Nikon Small World is the oldest, largest and most respected competition of its kind. It has become the top forum for showing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope, and it celebrates the world’s best photomicrographers who are creating beautiful imagery while demonstrating a variety of scientific disciplines. Nikon Small World recognizes photomicrographers for successfully capturing vibrant images that represent the intersection of science and art.  

“It is a privilege to honor some of the world’s foremost researchers and photomicrographers for their amazing work with Nikon Small World,” said Eric Flem, Communications Manager, Nikon Instruments. “We are thrilled that we continue to receive images that awe and surprise us every year – ranging from everyday household items to microscopic specimens used for science’s most pressing research. This competition truly demonstrates the fun of science as well as the importance of the many microscopic techniques and processes in use today.”

The top five images this year include King’s mosquito heart, Dr. Hideo Otsuna’s image of a five-day old zebrafish head, Oliver Braubach’s photo of zebrafish olfactory bulbs, Riaccardo Taiariol’s photomicrograph of a wasp nest, and Viktor Sykora’s darkfield image of a bird of paradise seed. Nikon has also awarded several “Honorable Mentions” and “Images of Distinction” this year to outstanding photomicrographs that demonstrate superior technical competency and artistic skill.

This year’s judges were once again comprised of top science and media industry experts: Jeremy Kaplan, Science & Technology Editor,; Betsy Mason, Science Editor,; Alison J. North, Ph.D., Director of the Bio-Imaging Resource Center and Assistant Professor, Rockefeller University; Shirley A. Owens, Ph.D., Retired Director of the Confocal Lab in the Center for Advanced Microscopy, Michigan State University, and former Small World winner.

Top images from the 2010 Nikon Small World Competition will be exhibited in a full-color calendar and through a national museum tour. For additional information, please visit, or follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter @NikonSmallWorld.