A PhD student of our Department wins the 2022 Nikon Small World Competition

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The 48th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition’s first place prize was awarded to Grigorii Timin, a PhD student supervised by Prof. Michel Milinkovitch from the GenEv Dpt, for his remarkable image of an embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis), using high-resolution microscopy and image-stitching. 

In the Milinkovitch-Tzika laboratory, researchers investigate the genetics and mechanics of morphogenesis, the process by which tissues and organs acquire their shapes and forms. As collagen, the main structural protein in animals, plays a key role in endowing tissues and organs with their material properties (elasticity, strength, etc), the UNIGE researchers recently devised new methods to image the 3D network architecture of collagen with unprecedented precision and resolution.

Masterfully blending imaging technology and artistic creativity, the result gives a glimpse into the hidden beauty and complexity of the gecko, highlighting the nerves in a cyan colour and the bones, tendons, ligaments, skin and blood cells in a range of warmer colours. “This particular image is beautiful and informative, as an overview and also when you magnify it in a certain region, shedding light on how the structures are organized on a cellular level,” said Timin.

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Photo 1: After whole-mount staining of nerves (with antibodies against β-tubulin III) and of connective tissue (with histological dyes), the embryonic hand (approximately 3 mm in length) of a Madagascar giant day gecko was cleared and mounted on a glass slide for confocal imaging. Reconstruction of the full volume required to assemble 300 tiles, each consisting of about 250 optical sections. The final image shows maximal intensity projection (with depth colour-coding for connective tissue) across approximately half of the scan depth. Nerves are shown in cyan whereas bones (with highlighted calcified regions), tendons, ligaments, skin and blood cells are shown with a range of warmer colours.
Copyright: Grigorii Timin & Michel Milinkovitch - UNIGE


Photo 2: Grigorii Timin & Michel Milinkovitch with an adult Madagascar giant day gecko.
Copyright: Gregory Loichot - UNIGE