Electron microscopy methods for virus diagnosis and high resolution analysis of viruses
The term “virosphere” describes both the space where viruses are found and the space they influence, and can extend to their impact on the environment, highlighting the complexity of the interactions involved. Studying the biology of viruses and the etiology of virus disease is crucial to the prevention of viral disease, efficient and reliable virus diagnosis, and virus control. Electron microscopy (EM) is an essential tool in the detection and analysis of virus replication. New EM methods and ongoing technical improvements offer a broad spectrum of applications, allowing in-depth investigation of viral impact on not only the host but also the environment. Indeed, using the most up-to-date electron cryomicroscopy methods, such investigations are now close to atomic resolution. In combination with bioinformatics, the transition from 2D imaging to 3D remodeling allows structural and functional analyses that extend and augment our knowledge of the astonishing diversity in virus structure and lifestyle. In combination with confocal laser scanning microscopy, EM enables live imaging of cells and tissues with high-resolution analysis. Here, we describe the pivotal role played by EM in the study of viruses, from structural analysis to the biological relevance of the viral metagenome (virome).