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Niels Sandal wins the prize for the science photo of the year 2019

The Danish National Research Foundation and videnskab.dk have invited researchers to participate in a photo competition on photos from their research. The judging committee selected Niels Sandal's photo with two nodules on the root of the leguminous plant Lotus japonicus as the science photo of 2019.

2019.03.28 | Lisbeth Heilesen

The photo shows two nodules on the root of the legume Lotus japonicus. This plant has symbiosis with the soil bacterium Mesorhizobium loti. In the symbiosis, the bacteria get carbohydrates from the plant, and the bacterium delivers fixed nitrogen to the plant. Therefore, the plant can do without nitrogen fertilizer. The bacteria are stained for the LacZ enzyme (dark blue) and the plant's nuclei are stained with DAPI. The nuclei are seen as light blue dots. You can see the bacteria in the young nodule and on the surface of the older nodule. In the research group - The Section for Plant Molecular Biology at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics - the researchers have isolated many of the plant genes necessary for the symbiosis.

To judge the submitted photos, The Danish National Research Foundation had set up a panel of judges, consisting of Christine Buhl Andersen (Director, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek), Louise Wolthers (Research Director/ Curator, Hasselblad Foundation) and Minik Rosing (Professor Natural History Museum of Denmark, member of DG's Board of Directors and Louisiana's board), and their reasons for choosing Niels Sandal's photo are as follows:

The photo is magical and cannot be interpreted immediately. It is not possible to see if the scale is at star or cell level, but you are drawn to the world that opens up in the photo. The photo is very beautiful and well-composed, giving a sense of movement and space. The scientific content is important as it shows how the researcher works with symbiosis between bacteria and plants, which can thereby grow without the supply of fertilizer.

Evaluation criteria: 

- To what extent does the photo arouse feelings in the audience
- To what extent does the photo work as a visual entry to the story behind a specific research result
- The aesthetic quality of the photo

Read more at the Danish National Research Foundation's website (in Danish)
See videnskab.dk's article about the photo (in Danish)
Read more at videnskab.dk, and see the interview with Niels Sandal

For further information, please contact

Niels Sandal
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University
nns@mbg.au.dk - +45  2076 0042