Viral vibrance

071016 virus 1
Credit: Image courtesy of David Aragao, Australian Synchrotron

Researchers have unravelled the molecular makeup of a virus threatening some of the world’s most endangered species.

The beak and feather disease virus shell is built from 60 individual capsid proteins that self-assemble and slot together around the viral DNA. 

At the Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne, Australia, X-rays more than a million times brighter than the sun created intricate diffraction patterns as they bounced off the microscopic crystals. This allowed researchers to identify the locations of the individual atoms and broader structure of the viral shells in 3-D.

The work was published in Nature Communications.

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