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How to make a fish face, and other photo contest winners

Winning imaging technique allows geneticists to study development at cellular level

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10:15am, October 28, 2016
fish face

FISH FACE Geneticist Oscar Ruiz snapped this photo of a 4-day-old zebrafish embryo. The image won first place in the 2016 Nikon Small World contest.

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This forlorn-looking face of a 4-day-old zebrafish embryo represents “a whole new avenue of research” for geneticist Oscar Ruiz, who studies how faces and facial abnormalities develop at the cellular level.  

The research is possible thanks to a new method, developed by Ruiz and colleagues at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, for mounting embryos in a gel that allows for clear, head-on pictures. A technique called confocal microscopy captures images like the one above, the first-place winner of this year’s Nikon Small World photography contest.

The embryo was euthanized before having its picture taken. But Ruiz is experimenting with taking time-lapse images of live, anesthetized zebrafish embryos. The camera snaps an image every five minutes for up to 48 hours, meaning that “we’re able to watch the development happening,” Ruiz says.

So far, the team

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