Hilda Canter-Lund Photography Award Winner 2011

Blue-green necklace - Trichormus variabilis by Lyra Gaysina

Trichormus variabilis is one of the common soil cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) referred to the order Nostocales.  This microscope image shows typical morphological features of this genus – coiled filaments, barrel-shape cells and intercalary heterocytes (specialized cells in which nitrogen fixation takes place). Additionally, we can see the mysterious beauty of the microscopic world. The photograph was taken with an AxioCam MRc camera on an Axio Imager A2 light microscope at ×400 magnification using differential interference contrast (DIC) optics.

Dr. Lira Gaysina received primary degree in Bashkir State Pedagogical University, where she is an Associate Professor in Botany, Bioecology and Landscape Design. She started studying algae in 1993, as an undergraduate, and completed her PhD thesis “Biology and ecology of Xanthonema exile (Klebs) Silva (Xanthophyceae)” in 2000. In 2006 she was awarded a grant from theRussian Ministry of  Science  and spent 3 months in Jeff Johansen’s laboratory at  John Carroll University (USA), extending her knowledge of algae isolation and culturing techniques and learning new skills in molecular genetics.  In 2010 and 2011 Lira collaborated with Marek Eliáš at Charles University in Prague to study the molecular taxonomy of terrestrial green and eustigmatophycean algae.  She is interested in taxonomy, biology, ecology, and biogeography of  terrestrial algae.  Algae, for Lira, are not only the focus of her science, but also her passion and a large part of her life.

Contact: lira.gaisina@mail.ru

Department of Botany, Bioecology and Landscape Design
M.Akmullah Bashkir State Pedagogical University,
450000, Oktyabr’skoi revolucii st., 3a, Ufa, Russia


Other short-listed images

Bruno Jesus: a solar-powered sea slug

The animal in the photograph is a sacoglossan solar-powered sea slug (Elysia viridis). These are creatures that are able to "steal" chloroplasts (kleptoplasts) from their food source (in this case Codium sp), incorporate the chloroplasts in their animal cells and maintain chloroplast photosynthetic functionality for many weeks or even months. In conclusion, while they are born as an animal once they start feeding they truly became a mixture of algae with an animal. This photograph was taken during my research on their photo-physiological mechanisms. I am particularly interested in understanding if the kleptoplast photoregulation mechanisms are fully functional (e.g. the xanthophyll cycle). The animal in the photograph is roughly 1 cm long and it is seen with the body flattened, a strategy used by the animal to maximize light capture when exposed to low light levels.
Contact: bmjesus@gmail.com

Karie Holtermann:  Trentepohlia

A zoosporangium of the filamentous green chlorophyte  algae Trentepohlia which forms a symbiosis (association) with fungus  resulting in the orange lichen, Xanthoria parietina. The orange color results from large quantities of carotenoid pigments masking the green of chlorophyll. In this case, the zoosporangium are released from the lichen upon the onset of vernal pool formation and then consumed by leeches (the leech appears to form another association with the algae although this has never been documented). When the zoosporangia are eventually released they propagate and form further associations with fungus in the form of orange lichens on rocks. The image shows the release of the zoosporangium from the leech surrounded by the nervous system and the carotenoid pigments stored inside of the leech.  Equipment: upright microscope with a digital SLR camera. Brightfield. 200x magnification.

Contact: karieholtermann@gmail.com


Chris Carter: Balbiania

This picture shows the freshwater red alga Balbiania investiens, which is exclusively epiphytic on Batrachospermum. A population of this rare alga had been found by Paul Gainey in Cornwall and I was studying material kindly supplied by him. A wonderful opportunity arose when an infested detached whorl of Batrachospermum boryanum floated free and could be captured. This not only shows the radial structure of the host but also the basal system of Balbiania at the core. The field of view of the objective was too narrow so the image is panorama merged horizontally and vertically; there are also two z stacks.

Contact: chris.carter@6cvw.freeuk.com
Christopher F. Carter
6 Church View

Hans Sluiman: Stigeoclonium at night

This image is an unusual view of the microscopic aquatic green alga Stigeoclonium. Members of this genus form delicate tufts or mats, often in flowing fresh water, and consist of a prostrate system which anchors the plant firmly to rocks or other substrates, and erect branched filaments which are only one cell wide but can be several cm long. Most published images of Stigeoclonium were made at fairly high magnifications using compound microscopes, and rarely show entire full-grown plants. Here, a dissecting microscope (a Zeiss Stemi 2000C) was used to capture a relatively low-magnification side-view of Stigeoclonium plants growing on the walls of a culture vessel. The plants were illuminated by two swan-neck cold light sources which resulted in an image more reminiscent of mysterious mats of grass floating on the shiny surface of a magical pond at night, rather than green algal scum growing in a petri dish in the lab. The strain was isolated in SE Belgium at the type locality of the elusive and poorly described coccoid green alga Filoprotococcus enteromorphoides. Species of Stigeoclonium are highly polymorphic and produce coccoid stages under certain conditions, so one wonders whether the alga pictured here and the mysterious F. enteromorphoides described almost a century ago (and which has defied all attempts to reveal its true identity as no cultures or voucher specimens exist) are the same organism.

Contact: h.sluiman@rbge.ac.uk

Dr Hans Sluiman
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
20A Inverleith Row

John Huisman: Dictyomenia sonderi

This red alga was  collected from Carnac Island, near Perth in Western Australia.   I’ve always had an interest in underwater photography of seaweeds and lately have been complementing my in-situ images with microscopy of freshly collected specimens, ostensibly as an aid to identification but equally to satisfy my photographic urges. These often reveal an unexpected beauty that was not evident in the whole-plant shot. In this image you can see the central axis and the regular alternate lateral branches, and the delicate membranous webbing formed between the laterals. The white tufts at the branch apices are colourless filaments called trichoblasts, which are characteristic of this group of red algae. To me the appeal of the shot is the vibrant colour combined with the regular pattern formed by the branches and cells.   The image was taken on a Nikon SMZ800 Stereomicroscope, using a Nikon DS Fi1 camera, darkfield.

Contact: John.Huisman@dec.wa.gov.au

Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia