Visualising viruses

Slater, A., Nair, N., Suétt, R., Mac Donnchadha, R., Bamford, C., Jasim, S., Livingstone, D. and Hutchinson, E. (2022) Visualising viruses. Journal of General Virology, 103(1), 001730. (doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.001730) (PMID:35082014) (PMCID:PMC8895616)

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Viruses pose a challenge to our imaginations. They exert a highly visible influence on the world in which we live, but operate at scales we cannot directly perceive and without a clear separation between their own biology and that of their hosts. Communication about viruses is therefore typically grounded in mental images of virus particles. Virus particles, as the infectious stage of the viral replication cycle, can be used to explain many directly observable properties of transmission, infection and immunity. In addition, their often striking beauty can stimulate further interest in virology. The structures of some virus particles have been determined experimentally in great detail, but for many important viruses a detailed description of the virus particle is lacking. This can be because they are challenging to describe with a single experimental method, or simply because of a lack of data. In these cases, methods from medical illustration can be applied to produce detailed visualisations of virus particles which integrate information from multiple sources. Here, we demonstrate how this approach was used to visualise the highly variable virus particles of influenza A viruses and, in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus particles of the then newly characterised and poorly described SARS-CoV-2. We show how constructing integrative illustrations of virus particles can challenge our thinking about the biology of viruses, as well as providing tools for science communication, and we provide a set of science communication resources to help visualise two viruses whose effects are extremely apparent to all of us.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Work in the Hutchinson group is funded by the MRC [MR/N008618/1] and by the University of Glasgow.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jasim, Dr Seema and Hutchinson, Dr Edward and Slater, Ms Annabel and Bamford, Dr Connor
Creator Roles:
Slater, A.Conceptualization, Visualization, Methodology
Bamford, C.Conceptualization, Supervision
Jasim, S.Conceptualization
Hutchinson, E.Conceptualization, Supervision, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing, Project administration, Funding acquisition
Authors: Slater, A., Nair, N., Suétt, R., Mac Donnchadha, R., Bamford, C., Jasim, S., Livingstone, D., and Hutchinson, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:Journal of General Virology
Publisher:Microbiology Society
ISSN (Online):1465-2099
Published Online:27 January 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of General Virology 103(1):001730
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.1220

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172398Functional investigations of the influenza virus proteomeEdward HutchinsonMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/N008618/1III-MRC-GU Centre for Virus Research