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Looking for HIV virus electron microscope images

  1. Sep 9, 2011 #1
    Hi, I am looking for some detailed electron microscop images of HIV virus itself.

    I need it bigger and more detailed then this:


    I would like to have some picture, not computer render or illustration, where I can see the parts of this virus and show them to my collegues in uni.

    I am wondering why, for example, flu virus is also so small and not bigger on google images (not computer renders and illustrtions).

    Is it because there is a limit with electron microscope or just these images are not on the internet?

    Thank you in advance for your opinion and links to better images if possible.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2011 #2


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    Have you tried Google Images? Most are illustrations as you say, but there do seem to be some photographic representations:


    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  4. Sep 9, 2011 #3


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    The link you provided looks to have fairly good quality EM images. What exactly are you hoping to see in the EM image?
  5. Sep 10, 2011 #4
    Yes, I dosearch via google images and bing search , but they are all very small and distorted, nothing like e.g.:

    http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/~w3bio380/picts/lectures/lecture7/Sperm-Egg Zona1.jpg

    So I am looking for some good image quality electron microscope image, where you can see them even on the projector in the biology class.

    But without a luck, it seems that it is not allowed or they are copyrighted and not accessible via internet.

    Do you know where can I eventually buy such images?

  6. Sep 10, 2011 #5


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    That's a scanning electron microscope image. The one in your OP is transmission electron microscope. The latter achieve greater real magnification, the former much more spectacular images with depth. I have no idea whether current technology allows scanning images of HIV viruses. If you can't find any, my guess would be it is not currently possible.
  7. Sep 10, 2011 #6
    It is really weird, because the virus has cca 100 nm and e.g. scanning electron microscope has resolution 0.05 nm. So the images should be big and sharp enough in higher resolutions like that on internet.

    I am shocked that there are no bigger images of such popular topis as HIV.

    I am going to write to some of the HIV research centers and ask them this question and I am really exciting to hear their explanation.

    There should be something I am missing.

  8. Sep 10, 2011 #7


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    Have you tried searching on pubmed, web of sci or google scholar? I would imagine you have more luck with peer-reviewed literature than google images.
  9. Sep 10, 2011 #8
    Probably the electron microscope is not capable of doing sharp images, who knows.

  10. Sep 10, 2011 #9
    On pubmed there are only abstracts, no images, as I know ;(.

    I think that there is not better image search engine that google have right now, or you think that some other company have better image indexing method and more relevant results? Thanks in advance for any info.

  11. Sep 10, 2011 #10
  12. Sep 10, 2011 #11
    It is very sad that there are thousands of picures of Britney Spears and only a few blurry images of HIV ;(.

    What a cool place to live ;(.
  13. Sep 10, 2011 #12


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    The HPV image isn't an actual picture, but a model based on EM data and x-ray crystallography data. To be able to get to that level of detail, you need to align and average together images from many virions, in order to produce a map of all of the stuff in the viral capsid. You then fit molecular models built from x-ray crystallography data into the map you built to get the model you see there.

    One problem with imaging HIV is that the core of the virus is fairly tightly packed with protein material. Therefore, most of the interior of the virus will be opaque to electrons, and the only distinguishable feature will the outline of the conical capsid. So, the problem is partly one of contrast, not resolution.

    I really think you're overestimating the capabilities of EM, especially when having to image fairly fragile biological samples. I don't know if you'll be able to find images better than those you linked to in the first post.

    For example, here's a link to a chapter from a textbook on retroviruses: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19361/ I'd say those images are fairly representative of the quality of EM images you could expect for most viruses.
  14. Sep 10, 2011 #13
    Thanks Ygggdrasil for the explanation. It helped me. I hope that in the near future there will be better images of these viruses available and less of Britney Spears. Thanks again ;)
  15. Sep 10, 2011 #14


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    You can try google images specifically putting scanning electron microscope HIV image. You get a lot of stylized ones, but if you go through carefully, there are a few nice real ones.
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