21 Jaw-Dropping Photographs Of Life, Magnified

Come and get your zebrafish embryos.

1. A mouse brain.

Thomas Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, University of California, San Diego

This cross section shows the cerebellum of a mouse. The cerebellum is the brain’s locomotion control center. Every time you tie your shoelaces or throw a ball, thank your cerebellum.

2. Hair cells that sense sound in your ear.

Henning Horn, Brian Burke and Colin Stewart, Institute of Medical Biology, Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, Singapore

These cells get their name from the hairlike structures that extend from them into the fluid-filled tube of the inner ear. When sound reaches your ear, the hairs bend and the cells convert this movement into signals that are sent to the brain.

3. Blood.

Dennis Kunkel, Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

Nearly half of our blood is composed of red blood cells. T cells, shown in orange, are an essential part of the immune system and platelets (green) clump together into clots to stop the bleeding when you get injured.

4. A zebrafish embryo.

Philipp Keller, Bill Lemon, Yinan Wan and Kristin Branson, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Va.

This zebrafish embryo is just 22-hours-old. In another 14 hours, all of the major organs will have started to form.

5. A mouse’s eye with different cell types highlighted.

Bryan William Jones and Robert E. Marc, University of Utah

Each colour represents a different type of cell in the retina. There are nearly 70 different types in total.

6. Layers of nerve cells in the retina.

Wei Li, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health

This image captures the many layers of nerve cells in the retina. The top layer in green is made up of cells called photoreceptors that convert light into electrical signals to send to the brain.

7. Anthrax bacteria being swallowed by an immune system cell.

Camenzind G. Robinson, Sarah Guilman and Arthur Friedlander, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

Multiple anthrax bacteria, in green, are being enveloped by an immune system cell shown in purple.

8. A cell dividing.

Jane Stout, Indiana University, 2012 GE Healthcare Cell Imaging Competition winner

This cell is preparing to divide. Two copies of each chromosome (blue) are lined up next to each other in the center of the cell. Next, protein strands (red) will pull apart these paired chromosomes and drag them to opposite sides of the cell before the cell splits into two daughter cells.

9. Anglerfish ovary.

James E. Hayden, The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.

This is a cross-section of an anglerfish’s ovary. Once matured, these eggs will be released in a gelatinous, floating mass.

10. Ebola virus.

Heinz Feldmann, Peter Jahrling, Elizabeth Fischer and Anita Mora, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

After multiplying inside a host cell, the stringlike Ebola virus is emerging to infect more cells. Ebola is a rare, often fatal disease that occurs mainly in tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

11. Larvae from a parasitic worm.

Bo Wang and Phillip A. Newmark, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013 FASEB BioArt winner Link to external Web site

The parasitic worm that causes a disease called schistosomiasis hatches in water and grows up in a freshwater snail, as shown here.

12. Birth of a yeast cell.

Juergen Berger, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and Maria Langegger, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory of the Max Planck Society, Germany

Two yeast cells had sex and this is what happened afterwards. A mother and father cell fuse and create one large cell that contains four offspring. When environmental conditions are favorable, the offspring are released.

13. Pollen grains.

Edna, Gil and Amit Cukierman, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

These are the horrible things that make you sneeze and your eyes itch in summer. Pollen grains are the male germ cells of plants, released to fertilize the corresponding female plant parts.

14. A fruit fly ovary.

Hogan Tang and Denise Montell, Johns Hopkins University and University of California, Santa Barbara

A fruit fly ovary, shown here, contains as many as 20 eggs. Fruit flies are hugely useful in scientific research because they reproduce so quickly, with as many as three generations in a single month.

15. HIV.

Seth Pincus, Elizabeth Fischer and Austin Athman, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

This human T cell (in blue) is under attack by HIV (in yellow), the virus that causes AIDS. The virus specifically targets T cells, which play a critical role in the body’s immune response against invaders like bacteria and viruses.

16. Zebrafish fin.

Jessica Plavicki, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Originally from the waters of India, Nepal and neighboring countries, zebrafish can now be found swimming in science labs throughout the world.

17. Flower-forming plant cells.

Arun Sampathkumar and Elliot Meyerowitz, California Institute of Technology

The stem cells at the growing tip of this Arabidopsis plant will soon become flowers. Arabidopsis is well studied by biologists because its entire life cycle lasts just six weeks.

18. Developing nerve cells.

Torsten Wittmann, University of California, San Francisco

These developing mouse nerve cells have a nucleus (yellow) surrounded by a cell body, with long extensions called axons and thin branching structures called dendrites. Electrical signals travel from the axon of one cell to the dendrites of another.

19. Dividing cells.

Nasser Rusan, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health

This pig cell is in the process of dividing. The chromosomes (purple) have already replicated and the duplicates are being pulled apart by fibers of the cell skeleton known as microtubules (green).

20. Gecko lizard toe hairs.

Dennis Kunkel, Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

Geckos have around 500,000 toe hairs, each of which is about one-tenth the thickness of a human hair. These hairs split into smaller hairs that fray into spatula-shaped structures, which lets geckos do amazing things like climb up walls.

21. Jellyfish.

Helena Parra, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain

Despite being primitive, jellyfish have a nervous system (stained green here) and muscles (red).

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