Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition 2019 Chamber of Secrets

Inside a fruit fly's ovary

31 December 2019

Chamber of Secrets

Inside a fruit fliesovaries are spherical chambers that undergo a rapid transformation. Beginning no fatter than a sheet of aluminium foil, each chamber increases its volume 1000-fold in three days, developing into an exquisitely structured egg. Each egg is long and thin, allowing it to travel away from the ovary along the oviduct tube (yellow). Driving the elongation is an unusual 'molecular corset', that constrains expansion in a particular direction. The corset is composed of protein fibres called actin. Here, actin is coloured yellow in both the oviduct and the two ovaries above. The cell centres, or nuclei, are green and the follicle cells are pink. In humans, follicle cells secrete hormones that influence the menstrual cycle. Researchers use fruit flies (Drosophila), to learn about organ development in people. This image was placed 11th out of over 2,000 entries in the Nikon 2019 Photomicrography Competition.

Written by Deborah Oakley

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