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Art of Science image titled HEATED BATTLEGROUND

Scientist Collaborator Elizabeth Rowland

Rachel Whitaker Laboratory

Philips CM200 Transmission Electron Microscope

Funded by the Space Administration, and the Mame Shiao Debbie award from the Department of Microbiology

Viruses are capable of infecting every single life form on Earth, with the number of viral particles exceeding the number of stars in the universe. The archaeon Sulfolobus islandicus, which can be isolated from hot springs, was found to be infected by a novel virus called Sulfolobus super-elliptical virus (SSeV). By examining virus-host interactions in a closed system, researchers can understand ecological dynamics within a population, having a broader impact on human health applications. 

These transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images show SSeV and viral progeny budding from the Sulfolobus islandicus host. The vibrant hues reflect the geothermal pools that serve as the battleground for Sulfolobus islandicus and its viruses. This piece captures the ethereal beauty of a simple system while revealing the dynamic interactions between a host and its virus.