Virology is an important field within microbiology and is concerned with the study of viruses and viral diseases. The impact of viruses on the population is enormous, as they can cause severe endemic or even pandemic diseases, such as the Spanish flu (H1N1 influenza virus), Aids (Human immunodeficiency virus HIV), dengue fever (dengue virus DENV), or most recently Covid-19 (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2).
Studying viruses, their interaction with host cells, and the immune response to the virus helps to develop vaccines and treatments against viral pathogens. Therefore, virology is often strongly connected to immunology.
In clinical routine a multitude of laboratory methods are available to confirm virus infections. With the advent of molecular techniques and increased sensitivity of serological assays, virology has changed rapidly with a wide variety of samples used for virologic testing.
Many viruses can be grown in cell culture in the lab. To do this, the virologist mixes the virus sample with suitable host cells, a process called adsorption or inoculation, after which the cells become infected and produce more copies of the virus. Although some viruses require a certain type of cells for replication, there are cells that support growth of a large variety of viruses such as the African monkey kidney cell line (Vero cells), human lung fibroblasts (MRC-5), and human epidermoid carcinoma cells (HEp-2).
One sign of knowing whether the cells are successfully replicating the virus is to search for changes in cell morphology or for increased cell death (apoptosis) using an inverted microscope for cell culture applications. These induced morphological changes are referred to as cytopathic effect (CPE). Light microscopy is also a valuable tool to quickly and efficiently observe histopathological changes such as typical aggregates of virus inside cells in so-called cytoplasmic inclusion bodies. One prominent example are the Negri bodies that are larger pathognomonic cellular inclusions typically observed with an hematoxylin and eosin stain (HE stain) in various nerve cells to detect rabies infections with the lyssavirus.
Fluorescence microscopy becomes increasingly important in virology. Immunofluorescence is one method of diagnosing and quantifying certain viral infections. The advancement of fluorescence labeling methods and microscopic instrumentation opens further possibilities to perform more refined studies on host-virus interactions, virus spreading, and virus replication, e.g. through co-localization measurements between cellular compartments and virus. Increased sensitivity, better resolution, and higher automation of those microscope systems provide the basis for screening applications that allow researchers to get a wealth of information on virus infected cells, e.g. upon drug treatment.
Electron microscopy is often used to examine the ultrastructure and to identify certain viruses. In particular, the correlation between light and electron microscopy (CLEM) can provide unique insights into the interactions between virus and host.
For observation and maintenance purposes in cell culture, inverted light microscopes with a small footprint, LED fluorescence option, good ergonomics and high-quality optics for reliable digital documentation are essential tools. Immunofluorescence opens up the rapid detection of viral agents with direct (DFA) or indirect fluorescence antibody (IFA) tests, including antibody test kits against herpes simplex (HSV), Influenza A, other respiratory viruses and enteroviruses.
Automated boxed microscopes with integrated calibration, environmental control and fluorescence options are ideal for lab environments with high throughput demands, enabling fully automated 2D and 3D screening of cell cultures and tissues. Confocal microscopes give the virologist the option to investigate the details of cellular invasion in greater detail and prepare the respective sample for further investigation with immune electron microscopy.
Recent developments in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) have shown to meet the resolution and image quality requirements for virus studies. The large field of view imaging mode in combination with correlative light microscopy and automated workflows saves valuable time in finding relevant viral spots and provides fast results, even in 3D.
Place ZEISS Primovert right inside your Laminar Flow Box. Examine unstained cells in phase contrast and GFP-labeled cells in fluorescence contrast quickly and efficiently. The inverted microscope is especially perfect for universal tasks in clinical routine such as observation and maintenance of your lab cell culture. CRE investigations and live/dead assays are easily possible. With the integrated camera of Primovert HDcam you use your iPad and the free imaging App Labscope to discuss the monitor image together in the team. Snap microscope images, annotate and create reports, and share them easily and wirelessly.
ZEISS Axio Vert.A1
Choose from all standard contrasting techniques, including Differential Interference Contrast (DIC), to investigate your cell cultures. Axio Vert.A1 produces brilliant images to answer your questions. Axio Vert.A1 is the only system in its class with such a large range of features, compact enough in fact to sit directly beside your incubator. Axio Vert.A1 is the ideal tool for basic and advanced cell culture tasks used in virology and immunology. It is robust, easy to use, ergonomic and provides fluorescence contrast. Immunofluorescence observation to detect viruses, CRE studies or live/dead assays are easily possible. With Axiocam 202 mono or 208 color you document your samples with just a press of a button. Labscope is the imaging App that allows you to acquire multichannel fluorescence images with ease, either with an iPad or a Windows based computer.
ZEISS LSM 900
What are you looking for in confocal imaging? Whatever your scientific question, you want to start with the best possible image quality and that means crisp contrast and the best resolution. This is particularly important in virology. You also want the highest sensitivity for gently imaging your living or fixed samples without bleaching. Your confocal LSM 900 with Airyscan 2 has all this and more. You image with 4 – 8× more signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and with superresolution. You also get the highest frame rates: the new Multiplex mode for Airyscan 2 adds smart detection schemes for parallel pixel acquisition. You can now observe dynamic processes such as virus-host interactions in living specimens gently – without sacrificing image quality. Plus, your LSM 900 has a genuinely small footprint, concentrating on the essence of a confocal and leaving off needless complexity. It fits easily into your lab – and it’s easy to use, too.
ZEISS Celldiscoverer 7
With Celldiscoverer 7, you combine the ease-of-use of an automated boxed microscope with the image quality and flexibility of a classic inverted research microscope. Celldiscoverer 7 calibrates itself, detects and focuses on your samples while the optics adjust themselves. Whether working with 2D or 3D cell cultures or tissue sections you will acquire better data in shorter times with this reliable automated live cell imaging platform. High throughput, high resolution screening is key in applied virus research or when investigating the response to certain drugs. What’s more, you can now add the new LSM 900 with Airyscan 2 to gently image dynamic processes in your living samples with highest framerates in superresolution.
Detect and characterize your viral pathogens with high resolution and in a large field of view - with Gemini technology. Gemini optics stands for more than 20 years of experience in field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). Produce high resolution transmission images of viruses with the aSTEM detector that are comparable to a TEM image. Benefit from easier sample processing and system handling procedures and the higher sample throughput of the SEM. With correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) you can obtain unique functional and structural information in virus-host interaction studies.
Your Microscopes for Laboratory and Teaching
Increased efficiency in the lab and more fun in teaching and working.
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Cleaning and Disinfecting the Microscope and its Optical Components
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The Clean Microscope
Recognizing and cleaning soiled optics
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