A vivid image of a spider embryo created by Tessa Montague in the 2017 MBL Embryology course has taken 5th place in Nikon’s 2018 “Small World” Competition. Montague, then a graduate student at Harvard University, worked with Embryology course faculty member (and now MBL director) Nipam Patel to prepare the embryo for photomicrography.
It must have been a good year, because another image from 2017 Embryology — a chameleon embryo by Teresa Zogoda, then an intern working with Zeiss’s Jim McIlvain — received Honorable Mention in this year’s Small World contest. Congratulations to all!
Below, Montague reveals her sources:
“I captured this image during the arthropod module of the 2017 Embryology Course, which was run by Nipam Patel. Nipam and his (then) graduate student, Erin Jarvis, were hoping to get us some live spider embryos to grow in the lab but their ‘spider dealer’ was only able to obtain black widows. So they brought us some fixed spider embryos (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) and some live black widow embryos, and I worked with both.
I put together a time course of the Parasteatoda embryos and stained them with a range of antibodies until I found a combination that worked. They were so beautiful! I also made time lapse videos of the black widow embryos, but they developed really, really slowly at the low temperature of the microscope room, so I couldn’t capture any of the exciting moments in their development during that module. However, by the end of the course, my baby black widows had hatched and were crawling around their little home. Don’t worry, I didn’t release them…”
Montague, who was a Grass Fellow at MBL last summer, is now at Columbia University.
Top: Parasteatoda tepidariorum (spider embryo)stained for embryo surface (pink), nuclei (blue) and microtubules (green). Credit: Tessa Montague
Bottom: Chameleon embryo. Credit: Teresa Zogoda