Celebrating ten years of BMC Biology in pictures


The BMC Biology iconic image (left) [1] was devised as a representation of the breadth of content of the journal, but its phylogenetic tree enclosed in a lipid bilayer cannot do full justice to the real variety of research papers that we publish. So to celebrate the anniversary of the launch of BMC Biology – in November 2003 – we have built on our iconic image with a pictorial representation of the content over the years (below), and here is a guided tour clockwise from the top.

At the top of the image, Jim Brandle and colleagues [2] look in plant leaves at the localization of elastin-like polypeptide (here, expressed with a green fluorescent protein (GFP) tag) in Nicotiana benthamiana. The peptide, which is expressed in several different areas of the cell, helps express and isolate proteins from leaf extracts.

In the second image, Theodorus Gadella and colleagues [3] examine plant morphogenesis and the establishment of a division plane by endoplasmic microtubules (EMT) by labeling the EMTs with GFP (- and also label endosomes with FM4-64, in red) in tobacco BY-2 cells. Vacuoles appear fragmented by intersecting EMTs during preprophase in the premitotic cytoplasm.

The third image, by Stephanie Höhn and Armin Hallmann [4] depicts what happens in early development in the green alga Volvox globator. Volvox embryos begin life inside out and have to turn their spherical cell monolayer outside in to achieve their adult configuration. This image shows type B inversion about 20 min after the initiation of inversion. Cells were visualized by staining the cytoskeleton, F-actin, with phalloidin-TRITC (red), and nuclei were stained with DAPI (blue).

The fourth image shows how the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster may disrupt developmental processes in organisms near the spill. In a study by Michael Barresi and colleagues [5] in zebrafish, exposure of the fish to water taken from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed developmental defects – craniofacial defects are shown here (the head and jaw cartilage of the fish were stained with Alcian blue at 4 days post fertilization); circulatory and locomotor defects were also observed.

The fifth image shows the surprising clustering of invariant natural killer-like T (iNKT) cells – a little-understood arm of the immune system – in the kidney. The image, from Jia Zeng and Jonathan Howard [6], shows that the expression of an interferon-gamma-inducible, immunity-related GTPase, Irga6 (blue) is not uniform and observed small patches, indicating local activation of the cells and secretion of interferon gamma. A similar focal pattern is seen in the liver.

The sixth image by Katrin Nyakatura and Olaf Bininda-Emonds [7] is examining the evolution of carnivores – updating what is understood of the diversity of this group of animals with a new supertree showing the best estimates of the divergence times.

The seventh image by Panagiotis Tsonis and colleagues [8] addresses the question of whether there is developmental plasticity in lens regeneration in the salamander. This image shows a lens after 7 days of regeneration and differentiation is almost complete. However, lens regeneration in axolotl occurs for a fixed period of time during development only and lenses can form from both the dorsal and ventral iris.

The eighth image by Hugo Stocker and colleagues [9] identifies a novel secreted imaginal morphogenesis protein-Late 2 (Imp-L2) in Drosophila that binds an insulin-like peptide 2 (Dilp2), inhibiting growth non-autonomously. This image is a tangential section through an adult eye where Imp-L2 overexpression clones are marked by the lack of red pigment in the ommatidia.

The ninth image by Patricia Beldade and colleagues [10] is assessing how eyespot morphology in Bicyclus anynana is affected by mutations in a locus that is also important for embryonic segment polarity. The butterfly depicted in this image carries a mutation that leads to greatly enlarged eyespots.

The tenth image depicts one of the first metazoa living in anoxic conditions, as identified by Reinhardt Kristensen and colleagues [11]. The authors found that sediments from the L’Atalante basin are inhabited by three species of the animal phylum Loricifera (Spinoloricus nov. sp., Rugiloricus nov. sp. and Pliciloricus nov. sp.), which is the first evidence of a metazoan life cycle in permanently anoxic sediments. A light microscopy image of Spinoloricus nov. sp. (stained with Rose Bengal) is shown here.

We look forward to beautiful and striking images in the research articles you will submit in the next ten years of BMC Biology.

With credit and thanks to all our authors whose images are shown here.


1. Robertson M: What is wrong with this picture? BMC Biol 2012, 10:76.

2. Conley AJ, Joensuu JJ, Menassa R, Brandle JE: Induction of protein body formation in plant leaves by elastin-like polypeptide fusions. BMC Biol 2009, 7:48.

3. Dhonukshe P, Mathur J, Hülskamp M, Gadella TWJ: Microtubule plus-ends reveal essential links between intracellular polarization and localized modulation of endocytosis during division-plane establishment in plant cells. BMC Biol 2005, 3:11.

4. Höhn S, Hallmann A: There is more than one way to turn a spherical cellular monolayer inside out: type B embryo inversion in Volvox globator. BMC Biol 2011, 9:89.

5. de Soysa TY, Ulrich A, Friedrich T, Pite D, Compton SL, Ok D, Bernardos RL, Downes GB, Hsieh S, Stein R, Lagdameo MC, Halvorsen K, Kesich LR, Barresi MJF: Macondo crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disrupts specific developmental processes during zebrafish embryogenesis. BMC Biol 2012, 10:40.

6. Zeng J, Howard JC: Spontaneous focal activation of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells in mouse liver and kidney. BMC Biol 2010, 8:142.

7. Nyakatura K, Bininda-Emonds ORP: Updating the evolutionary history of Carnivora (Mammalia): a new species-level supertree complete with divergence time estimates. BMC Biol 2012, 10:12.

8. Suetsugu-Maki R, Maki N, Nakamura K, Sumanas S, Zhu J, Del Rio-Tsonis K, Tsonis PA: Lens regeneration in axolotl: new evidence of developmental plasticity. BMC Biol 2012, 10:103.

9. Honegger B, Galic M, Köhler K, Wittwer F, Brogiolo W, Hafen E, Stocker H: Imp-L2, a putative homolog of vertebrate IGF-binding protein 7, counteracts insulin signaling in Drosophila and is essential for starvation resistance. J Biol 2008, 7:10.

10. Saenko SV, Brakefield PM, Beldade P: Single locus affects embryonic segment polarity and multiple aspects of an adult evolutionary novelty. BMC Biol 2010, 8:111.

11. Danovaro R, Dell’Anno A, Pusceddu A, Gambi C, Heiner I, Kristensen RM: The first metazoa living in permanently anoxic conditions. BMC Biol 2010, 8:30.