Scientific Images Dazzle in BioArt Competition

2020 BioArt winners include turtle shells and human enamel.

South American cichlid
South American cichlid.

M. Chaise Gilbert / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

When scientists are in the lab, they discover all sorts of amazing things. And some of them are just gorgeous.

The BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition celebrates some of these interesting images and videos captured by researchers. Sponsored by the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology (FASEB), the contest is in its ninth year. This year's winners include a turtle shell, human enamel, and sickle cell disease – all made fascinating through the eyes of scientists.

"Each day, scientific investigators produce thousands of images and videos as a part of their research; however, only a few are ever seen outside of the laboratory," explains FASEB on its website. "Through the BioArt competition, FASEB aims to share the beauty and breadth of biological research with the public by celebrating the art of science. Contestants include investigators, contractors, or trainees with current or past research funding from a U.S. federal agency and members of FASEB societies."

The images and video submissions include fluorescence or electron microscopy, 3D printing, videos, and other scientific images.

“FASEB receives outstanding submissions to the BioArt Competition — and this year’s submissions continued that tradition,” said FASEB President Louis B. Justement in a statement. “The BioArt competition showcases the beauty that emerges from scientific research; much of which is never seen by anyone outside the researchers’ labs. FASEB is proud to offer this competition as a celebration of the art of science."

The winners include the haunting image above of a South American cichlid by M. Chaise Gilbert, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

This image is of a cleared and stained Caquetaia spectabilis, a South American cichlid known for extreme jaw protrusion. Images like this are being used to better understand how extreme morphologies can introduce anatomical and functional tradeoffs.

Here are the other fascinating winners of the 2020 BioArt competition and how the researchers describe their work:

Cardiac Lymphatic Network Remodeling — Coraline Héron, PhD, University of Rouen, France

Cardiac Lymphatic Network Remodeling
Cardiac Lymphatic Network Remodeling.

Coraline Héron / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

This is a 3D evaluation of cardiac lymphatic network remodeling of a mouse, based on whole mount immunostained and clarified tissue samples visualized by light-sheet microscopy, with two lymphatic markers: Lyve-1 (blue) and podoplanin (pink).

Filamentous Viruses — Edward H. Egelman, PhD, University of Virginia

Filamentous Viruses
Filamentous Viruses.

Edward H. Egelman, PhD, University of Virginia / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

An ensemble of filamentous viruses that infect archaea living in almost boiling acid. Structural studies have revealed that all share common ancestry, while sequence and genomic comparisons fail to find similarities. | Co-researchers: Fengbin Wang, University of Virginia; Agnieszka Kawska, PhD; and Mart Krupovic, PhD, Institut Pasteur

Crocodilian Lung Biology — Emma Schachner, PhD, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Crocodilian Lung Biology
Crocodilian Lung Biology.

Emma Schachner, PhD, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

This image shows a 3D segmented model of the lung surface, bronchial tree, and skeleton of a hatchling Cuvier's dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) from a microCT scan. Researchers are using these models to investigate crocodilian lung biology.

Human Enamel — Timothy G. Bromage, New York University College of Dentistry

Human Enamel
Human Enamel.

Timothy G. Bromage, New York University College of Dentistry / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

Human enamel has a structure that resists chewing forces. This image by backscattered electron microscopy in the SEM was color-coded by a program to reveal enamel “prism” anisotropy. This heterogeneity provides crack propagating resistance to teeth.

Sickle Cell Disease — Alexa Abounader, Cleveland Institute of Art

Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease.

Alexa Abounader, Cleveland Institute of Art / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disorder worldwide. SCD is caused by a point-mutation on a single gene. This illustration depicts the entanglement of the root cause and the affected red blood cells. Co-researcher: Umut Gurkan, PhD, Case Western Reserve University

Hindlimbs from Chick Embryos — Christian Bonatto, PhD, Cincinnati Children's Hospital

Hindlimbs from Chick Embryos
Hindlimbs from Chick Embryos.

Christian Bonatto, PhD, Cincinnati Children's Hospital / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

This image features two hindlimbs from chick embryos. The left one is a control one at Day 7 of development. The limb on the right is a talpid2 mutant, stained in yellow for a protein that marks progenitors of bone and cartilage development.

Intestinal Villi — Amy Engevik, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Intestinal Villi
Intestinal Villi.

Amy Engevik, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

The small intestine is the site of nutrient and water absorption. This micrograph shows a cross-section of intestinal villi. The absorptive surface is magenta, yellow shows the borders of individual cells, and blue depicts the DNA-rich nuclei.

Skin/Muscle Interface — Sarah Lipp, Purdue University

Skin/Muscle Interface
Skin/Muscle Interface.

Sarah Lipp, Purdue University / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

This image depicts a 3D color projection of the developing skin/muscle interface of the mouse stained for the basement membrane. Understanding how the limb develops can help engineer new options to treat musculoskeletal injuries. Co-researcher: Sarah Calve, PhD, University of Colorado, Boulder

Turtle Shell — Heather F. Smith, PhD, Midwestern University

Turtle Shell
Turtle Shell.

Heather F. Smith, PhD, Midwestern University / 2020 FASEB BioArt Scientific Image and Video Competition

Paleohistological thin section from a 96-million-year-old fossil side-necked turtle shell from the Arlington Archosaur Site. Polarized light reveals details of the compact bone in the external cortex. Co-researchers: Brent Adrian, Andrew Lee, and Aryeh Grossman, Midwestern University; and Christopher Notot, University of Wisconsin, Parkside

CT Scan Data of Embryonic American Alligator — Emily Lessner, University of Missouri

This movie depicts a 3D reconstruction of the brain, cranial nerves, and cranial muscles of an embryonic American alligator from CT scan data. Models like these are used to study development and evolution of reptile sensory systems and feeding. Co-researcher: Casey Holliday, PhD

10-Day Old Cultured Cortical Neurons — Karthik Krishnamurthy, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University

Time lapse movie of 10 day old cultured cortical neurons transfected with genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP6m shows repetitive calcium spikes indicative of neuronal hyperexcitability induced by glutamate (10 micromolar). Co-researchers: Aaron Haeusler, PhD, Davide Trotti, PhD, and Piera Pasinelli, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University

E. Coli Bacteria — Kristen Dancel-Manning, BFA, BA, MS, New York University Langone Health

This video depicts an e. coli bacteria using its flagella to propel through its environment. It is based off observations made while taking electron micrographs for the Microscopy Laboratory at NYU Langone Health. It was created with Maxon Cinema 4D.