A “doughnut” of fascinating cell-forming microtubules moving in sync is among the top entries in Nikon’s annual microscopic video competition.
The microtubules are proteins that form the skeleton of a cell. Their movement is usually chaotic, but when they are constrained to a circular channel, they begin to move together and organize themselves into a coherent flow, according to Ignasi Vélez-Ceron, a doctoral candidate who shot the video with colleagues in the Science Department of Materials and Physical Chemistry at the University of Barcelona in Spain.
In the video, fluorescent microtubules move in synchronized waves around the channel, which is shaped like a donut with a hole in the middle. The film shows how small structures work together in collective behavior.
“I have been involved in studying the motion of microtubules in this system for 3 years and was elated and amazed when we managed to confine our material and got this incredible video,” Velez-Ceron told LiveScience in an email. “Also, I discovered that the movement of the material is completely hypnotic, endlessly spinning.”
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The microtubule “doughnut” video took fifth place in the Nikon Small World in Motion competition on September 13. The competition is made up of movies and time-lapse photography captured with microscopes.
“During my daily work, I am used to seeing[ing] very beautiful phenomena through the microscope, and this contest allowed me to share them with people,” said Vélez-Ceron.
The winning entry for the 2022 competition was a time-lapse video of cells migrating in a developing zebrafish (danio rerio) embryo over a period of eight hours, according to a statement issued by Nikon (opens in a new tab).
A panel of judges evaluated each entry for originality, informative content, technical proficiency, and visual impact. A 12-hour time-lapse of cultured monkey cells took second place in the competition, while a video of sea anemone neurons and stinging cells took third place.
The judges also awarded honorable mentions to 25 other entries, including a dividing cell, a holographic tardigrade shuffling, and a time lapse of a Hydra eating a water fleadaphnia pulex). Hydra are a group of age-defying jellyfish-like invertebrates that constantly replace their cells with new ones, causing the creatures biologically immortalLive Science previously reported.
Originally published on Live Science.