Vote for your winner of the Infectious Images Photo Competition 2019

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The voting for this competition has now closed, please do not try to vote – the winner will be announced soon!

The judges have had their say and now it’s up to you to choose the winner!

If you’d like to find out more about the research and the researchers behind these photos then take a look at our interviews with the finalists below, and once you have chosen cast your vote!

The winner will receive:

  • US $100 Amazon voucher
  • The winning image will be printed on our 2020 conference bags
  • OA fee discounted by 50% on next submitted paper to Future Microbiology or Future Virology
  • Their photo featured on Infectious Diseases Hub alongside an interview about the photographer and the research behind the photo
  • A year’s complimentary subscription for your institution/organization to Future Microbiology and Future Virology

  • This false-colored transmission electron microscopy image shows a swarm of bacteriophage KVP40 (in green) infecting a single Vibrio natriegens cell during a laboratory experiment.

    ‘Bacteriophage save the day. Vibrio under siege!’ by Anthony M. Greco

    First, could you introduce yourself and where you are currently based/your current role?

    My name is Anthony M. Greco and I am currently the Laboratory Manager of the Electron Microscope laboratory in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida (FL, USA). My position involves overseeing the daily operation of the scanning and transmission electron microscopes and specimen preparation equipment. I collaborate with research faculty, staff and students in preparing samples and producing high resolution images on the SEM and TEM and, if necessary, provide elemental information using an x-ray microanalysis system. I also teach graduate and undergraduate courses in the theory and techniques of scanning and transmission electron microscopy.

    What began your interest in the field?

    I’ve always wanted to combine my love of biology with my love of photography, and electron microscopy seemed to be the perfect marriage of both fields. It has enabled me to record high quality images of a wide variety of microscopic entities such as viruses that cannot be obtained with any other instrument.

     Could you give us a brief background to this photograph and how it ties into your research?

    I am presently involved in a project exploring the means of infection of a specific bacteriophage (KVP40) in the marine bacterium Vibrio natriegens. We are trying to develop a marine phage host model and to explore the potential role of iron in phage infection and their importance in iron cycling in the ocean.

    What message would you like people to take away from your image?

    Every milliliter of seawater contains approximately 10 million phage. An understanding of the means of infection will help us better elucidate the role of bacteriophage in carbon cycling and gene transfer in the ocean. Also, in an era of epidemic antibiotic resistance, bacteriophage therapy offers a real alternative in the treatment of stubborn bacterial infections in humans and other animals.

  • A healthy human red blood cell and a second with a nasty guest, the deadly cerebral malaria parasite. The parasite voraciously consumes the haemoglobin within the red cell and produces ~24 new parasites within 48 hours.

    ‘Good blood/bad blood’ by Geoffrey McFadden

    First, could you introduce yourself and where you are currently based/your current role?

    My name is Prof Geoff McFadden. I got into parasitology accidentally. I worked on plants and algae in a Botany department and stumbled on a paper about plant-like DNA in malaria parasites whilst browsing life cycles for a biology textbook I was writing. I was intrigued and eventually ended up identifying the relict plastic (apicoplast) of malaria and related parasites. Since then I have built a large malariology lab working on drugs, drug resistance, mosquito transmission of disease, and collaborating with vaccine developers at Melbourne University (Australia).

    Could you give us a brief background to this photograph and how it ties into your research?

    I make electron micrographs of malaria parasites and found it fascinating that they get into red blood cells and eat them out from the inside without the body realizing they are there.

    What message would you like people to take away from your image?

    Support malaria research. It remains one of the world’s major health problems and causes misery, deaths and poverty.


  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of the interaction between Trichomonas vaginalis (blue) and a HeLa cell monolayer (pink). During the parasite:host cell interaction

    ‘Intimate interaction between HeLa cells and Trichomonas vaginalis’ by Sarahí Rodríguez-Cruz

    First, could you introduce yourself and where you are currently based/your current role?

    My name is Sarahí Rodríguez Cruz. I’m a 26 year-old Mexican Pharmacobiologist. I’m a second-year PhD student in the Department of Infectomics and Molecular Pathogenesis at CINVESTAV-IPN in Mexico City (Mexico).

    What began your interest in the field?

    My interest in parasitology started when I attended a talk by Dr. Rossana Arroyo, who now became my Ph.D. project director. Dr. Arroyo talked about the molecular pathogenesis of Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite responsible for trichomoniasis, the first non-viral sexually transmitted infection worldwide. I have fallen in love with her areas of research to uncovering the intriguing parasite biology. I contacted her and had the opportunity to perform a summer internship in her laboratory, which was key to discover a research interest to pursue graduate studies in this science field. Thus, I enrolled as an MSc student, graduated, and at present, I’m enrolled as a second-year PhD student.

    Could you give us a brief background to this photograph and how it ties into your research?

    The focus of my graduate studies has been to understand the host–parasite relationship at the ultrastructural, cellular, and functional levels under different microenvironmental conditions, such as different glucose concentrations. This scanning electron microscopy shows the intimacy of the interaction between T. vaginalis (in blue) grown under high glucose conditions and HeLa cells (in pink) used as a human host cell.

     What message would you like people to take away from your image?

    When looking at the micrography, I would like people to keep in mind the way Trichomonas interacts with the human cells during infection. Also, I would like people to understand the relevance and the need for basic studies to shed some light on the complex biology and pathogenesis of T. vaginalis. Soon, a deep understanding of parasite biology can help to identify new ways to diagnose and treat this sexually transmitted infection, some of the main problems of this curable infection.

  • The image shows the drastic morphological change and voracity of the extracellular parasite Trichomonas vaginalis (green) during interaction with vaginal epithelial cells (red).

    ‘The Hunger Games of a Parasite: The Deathly Hug of Trichomonas vaginalis’ by Antonio Pereira-Neves

    First, could you introduce yourself and where you are currently based/your current role?

    I am Dr Antonio Pereira-Neves, Brazilian, 36 years old. I graduated in Biology (2006) from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil, and later obtained a Master’s (2009) and a doctoral degree (2013) in Morphology, also from UFRJ. I have worked in parasite morphology and protozoology, acting on cell biology and ultrastructure, parasite–host cell interaction and basic and advanced techniques in light and electron microscopies. Currently, I hold the position of Public Health Researcher at the Microbiology Department of the Aggeu Magalhães Institute of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, in Recife, Brazil. I head a research group focused on the cell biology of the protist Trichomonas vaginalis, an important human parasite that causes the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection worldwide, trichomoniasis. Our goals are to identify new factors that contribute to T. vaginalis pathogenicity and understand the morphological changes of the parasite during its interaction with the host’s cells.

    What began your interest in the field?

    When I was a little child, I was hugely curious and wanted to understand the organization of living beings. News about the AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s made me particularly interested in sexually transmitted infections. Then I had my first contact with microscopes and protozoa during a science class at school. It fascinated me so much that I decided to become a scientist. During high school, I was selected through a social academic program for a scientific internship at UFRJ, in the lab headed by Dr Marlene Benchimol, a researcher globally recognized for her studies on the Trichomonads’ ultrastructural biology. I started my research activities under her supervision and that consolidated my interest in the field. I remained in her lab until I earned my doctoral degree. Now I lead my own research team in the field.
    Could you give us a brief background to this photograph and how it ties into your research?

    T. vaginalis infects the urogenital tract of over 156 million people worldwide. The infection is associated with pregnancy complications, infertility, and increased risk of HIV infection and malignant cervical and prostate cancers. Cell adherence is critical for the parasite to establish infection and acquire nutrients from host cells. Contact with urogenital epithelial cells induces T. vaginalis to become ‘amoeboid’, i.e., larger and flatter, and then spread itself over the target cells, which can then be phagocytized. This drastic morphological change of the parasite is what the image shows. These amoeboid forms are highly adherent because of an increased expression of the proteins required for cytoadherence and cause huge damage to host cell. However, the triggers and cellular signaling pathways that orchestrate the amoeboid transformation are largely unknown. My research aims, among other things, to investigate players in this amoeboid transition and how this morphological change contributes to Trichomonas pathogenicity.
    What message would you like people to take away from your image?

    I would like to draw people’s attention to the world’s highest prevalent and underestimated non-viral sexually transmitted infection. Trichomoniasis has not been considered an important public-health hazard, particularly in the USA and developing countries, where it is classified as a neglected infection due to its disproportionate affliction of low-income populations. Tissue damage by this parasite is associated with pregnancy complications, higher susceptibility to HIV infection and increased risk of malignant cervical and prostate cancers. Yet many health professionals believe that trichomoniasis is a low-severity infection due to their own limited knowledge of the serious consequences of infection. Moreover, because most cases are asymptomatic, people have little motivation to search for information about the infection or to seek medical care. This is another issue, because even in asymptomatic cases, the parasites can still attack host cells with the same voracity shown in the image, silently predisposing affected individuals to those serious complications.

  • Here we are seeing the infection of the T. cruzi parasite (Amastigote form) infecting an H9c2 cell (myoblast), apparently when the cell began to separate, so did the amastigotes, exactly 16 amastigotes per daughter cell. Green (Amastigotes) Blue ( DNA), Red (Actin cytoskeleton)

    ‘T. cruzi amastigotes 50-50 per… you broke my heart’ by Santiago J Martinez

    First, could you introduce yourself and where you are currently based/your current role?

    My name is Santiago José Martínez, I am a PhD student, I’m currently working at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CA, USA) with a scholarship, but my place of work is the Institute of Histology and Embryology of Mendoza, Argentina.

    What began your interest in the field?

    My interest in the field began by participating in extension programs teaching in rural schools the importance of preventing infection of T. cruzi through vectors (Triatoma infestans, as a vector in Argentina). After obtaining my biology degree, I found a doctoral scholarship to study new therapies for the treatment of Chagas disease.

    Could you give us a brief background to this photograph and how it ties into your research?

    What we are seeing in the photograph is an image taken in a fluorescence microscope, the cells are rat heart myoblasts. The red lines represent the actin cytoskeleton, the blue represents the DNA and the green represents the cellular membrane of the amastigote form (intracellular T. cruzi). In my research, I used this technique in vitro to quantify the number of amastigotes per cell with and without drug treatment at different conditions and compare the difference between the different treatments.

    What message would you like people to take away from your image?

    A particularly scary message to the people who see it is that: this parasite can be found inside the cells of their hearts without presenting symptoms, but in the long term, it can cause failure in the functioning of the heart. That is why it is important to study more effective therapies to combat this ‘silent disease’.

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