IMAGES: Virus Portraits

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Science  12 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5468, pp. 923a-923
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5468.923a

After many, many years of peering at virus particles through the electron microscope, I have still not ceased to be amazed and excited by the precision and intricacy of design in something so very, very small. So writes Linda Stannard of the University of Cape Town in South Africa on her Virus Ultrastructure site, a tutorial that shares her fascination with these capsules of genetic material, half a billion of which could fit on the head of a pin. Here, for example, are the 75-nanometer-across outer and inner protein shells, or capsids, of a rotavirus, an RNA-containing virus best known for leading to diarrhea. Besides such classic icosahedral soccer balls, check out ghostly micrographs of other animal viruses such as helically wound paramyxoviruses, which cause measles and mumps.

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