Nature editors present their pick of the scientific images shortlisted in the awards run by the Wellcome Trust. The London biomedical charity will announce the winner on 18 March.

Credit: Michael Frank/Royal Veterinary College

Goats have a four-chambered stomach to break down their grass-heavy meals. This photograph shows the second chamber, the reticulum, from a historical specimen. Food enters from the tube at the top, and slides down towards the honeycomb-like structures, which are seeded with beneficial bacteria that help with digestion.

Credit: Maurizio De Angelis

Pollen grains send many people into sneezing fits, but they are key to the reproduction of flowering plants. This illustration depicts grains from a family of plants known as Asteraceae, or the daisy family.

Credit: Daniel Kariko

Boll weevils (Anthonomus grandis) such as this one, found on a front porch and photographed under a scanning electron microscope, can savage an entire cotton field. The beetles can grow up to 8 millimetres in length.

Credit: David Linstead

A cat’s sandpaper lick comes from papillae — the crest structures in this polarized light microscopy image of a cross-sectioned cat tongue. The rough surface helps cats to feed and groom themselves.

Credit: Jefferson R. Brown, Robert E. Marc, Bryan W. Jones, Glen Prusky and Nazia Alam

Kidneys have an important role in breaking down proteins. This image of a mouse kidney shows some of the products of that process: the amino acids aspartate (red) and glutamine (blue), as well as the antioxidant glutathione (green).

Credit: Albert Cardona/HHMI Janelia Research Campus

The yellow vein in this digitally coloured electron micrograph is a single neuron in a fruit fly, surrounded by hundreds of other neurons. The blue and red splotches are synapses where two neurons communicate.

Credit: Gregory Szeto, Adelaide Tovar, Jeffrey Wyckoff/Koch Institute/MIT

Pink synthetic microparticles decorate these mouse whole lungs (in blue and green). Researchers hope that such microparticles could one day be used in an inhaler to deliver cancer drugs to humans.

Credit: Anthony Edwards

Medical students at Trinity College Dublin spent countless hours with this anatomical model, which was binned after this photograph was taken.