Virology is the exciting branch of microbiology and medicine that studies viruses.
There are about 5,500 known viruses. These viruses are organized in more than 200 species.
Viruses are small. They are between 30 and 450 nanometers (nm) in size.
What’s a nanometer? Well, two nanometers is about the diameter of the DNA helix. Most viruses can’t be seen by light microscopes.
To study viruses, scientists use electron microscopy, NMR spectroscopy, and X-ray crystallography.
Viruses are important to scientists because they cause many infectious diseases including the common cold, hepatitis, and AIDS.
Ebola virus particle. "Beautiful....But Deadly": Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus
particles (green) found both as extracellular particles and budding particles from a chronically-infected African
Green Monkey Kidney cell (blue); 20,000x magnification. By BernbaumJG (Own work) [CC BY 4.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Discovery of the Virus
We’re all familiar with the advancements made by Louis Pasteur.
His work saved incalculable lives.
Yet, for as much as he accomplished in the fields of vaccinations and fermentation, he remained ignorant on viruses.
Pasteur had an inkling, but was never able to make the final leap.
This highlights the elusiveness and mystery of viruses.
Pasteur immersed himself into microbiology, but still failed to identify their true nature.
Satellite tobacco mosaic virus (STMV) rendering produced by VMD and Tachyon. The capsid is colored
using a radial color scale. The VMD axes are left in the image to show rendering of text and other non-
molecular geometry in Tachyon. Ambient occlusion lighting improves perception of shape. By John E. Stone
(Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1876, Adolf Mayer discovered that "tobacco mosaic disease" (his term) was infectious. His discovery set the stage for future scientists to discover viruses.
In 1884, Charles Chamberland invented a filter with pores smaller than bacteria. This allowed scientists to filter bacteria out of substances—another advancement toward the discovery of viruses.
In 1892, Dmitry Ivanovsky, using Chamberland’s filter, studied Mayer’s “tobacco mosaic disease,” known today as the “tobacco mosaic virus.”
Ivanovsky proved that plants remained infected even after being filtered.
Despite his breakthrough, Ivanovsky didn’t discover the virus.
It wasn’t until 1898 that the concept of “virus” permanently entered the scientific vocabulary. Martinus Beijerinck repeated Mayer’s experiments and observed that the infectious agent only multiplied in dividing cells.
He called the agent “contagium vivum fluidum” or “contagious living fluid.” Beijerinck did it. He discovered the virus.
What he didn’t do is discover its nature. He incorrectly postulated that viruses are liquid.
It wasn’t until 1935, and the work of Wendell Meredith Stanley, did the scientific community finally discover that viruses are particles.
Dr. J. Buist is believed to be the first person to see virus particles—he called them “micrococci.” He saw the particles in 1886 although he didn’t know what he was observing. Scientists believe he was looking at the vaccinia virus.
Virologists finally had the opportunity to witness the complex structures of virus particles in 1931 thanks to the advent of the electron microscope.
Due to that invention, advancements in virology came quickly. For example, Max Theiler isolated the virus causing yellow fever in 1932.
To assist virologists and future virologists in their study and research, Sciencesy has collected links to the best virology information on the internet.
The links we’ve collected will help you learn more about animal, plant, and fungal viruses as well as viruses that infect bacterium—also known as bacteriophages.
For professionals, we have complied links to research databases, recent articles, and organizations dedicated to virology and microbiology.
You’ll find a bunch of useful and relevant links related to the industrial side of virology.
An influenza virus particle. This (Pseudocolored) negative-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM)
depicts the ultrastructural details of an influenza virus particle, or “virion”. A member of the taxonomic family
Orthomyxoviridae, the influenza virus is a single-stranded RNA organism. By Photo Credit: Cynthia
Goldsmith Content Providers(s): CDC/ Dr. Erskine. L. Palmer; Dr. M. L. Martin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Virology Terms and Vocabulary
Before you can really dive into virology, you need to know the lingo.
The Virology and Microbiology Dictionaries page has links to resources that are sure to define even the most obscure virology terms.
If you’re still having trouble finding the necessary information, try this search page. There you’ll find the ability to conduct simple as well as advance searches.
Check out The Big Picture Book of Viruses. On that page, you’ll find links to images of viruses. The site is also a great resource for viral taxonomy.
If you’re looking to expand your library, visit The Virology Bookshop. There are links to several great titles pertaining to virology.
Here are pages with collections of links related to virology.
AIDS and HIV – Organized by topic, these websites provide information on AIDS and HIV.
Graduate Programs – Websites to some of the best graduate programs in virology.
Online Viral Courses – Websites offering online educational resources.
Organization and Groups – This collection includes websites to college and university virology and microbiology departments as well as labs, societies, and companies that deal with viruses.
Plant Viruses – Organized by topic, this collection contains links to websites providing indispensable information on plant viruses.
Specific Virus – Websites focusing on viral families or particular viruses.
Anti-Viral Drug Resources
Electron Micrographs and Macromolecular Images
Taxonomy and Phylogeny
Viral Genome Sequence Data
Viral Vectors and Gene Therapy
Virological Laboratory Techniques
Virology in the News
SIMIAN VIRUS 40 - PDB entry: 1SVA
Phoebus87 at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
American Society for Microbiology – Bookmark this site if you have, or are considering, a career in microbiology.
Are Viruses Alive? – Scientific American article about viruses and the meaning of life.
Intro to Viruses – Terrific primer from the Khan Academy.
GenomeNet – A network of sites supporting genome research.
Microbiology Online – The Microbiology Society has put together a nice site for teachers and students.
Microbe.tv – A podcast network for those interested in viruses, microbes, parasites, and related scientific topics.
The Origins of Viruses – Interesting article about where viruses came from.
Virology Blog – Professional-looking blog belonging to Earth’s professor Vincent Racaniello.
Viral Infections – MedlinePlus has put together an informative page about viral infections that includes plenty of quality links.
Viruses — Open Access Virology Journal – This site is brought to you by MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute) in Switzerland.
Viruses in the Sky – ScienceAlert’s article about viruses falling from the sky.
Virus Pathogen Database – This database supports the research of viral pathogens.
Zombie Viruses – NPR article about zombie viruses in thawing permafrost.
Here at Sciencesy, we highly appreciate science, but we are not virologists. The links included on this page are for your amusement. We take no responsibility for the accuracy of any third-party site.
We offer no guarantee of any content found on any of the linked pages.
Use the links, and the information found on the linked websites and here, at your own risk.
Please Come Back!
Virology is a dynamic field of study that is constantly changing. Therefore, we recommend re-visiting this page once in a while to find new links to the latest virology information.