Microbes and Art: Ebola Virus

The Ebola VirusReceiving an honorable mention in the ‘informational Posters & Graphics’ category of the 2011 International Science and engineering visualisation contest is this beautifully illustrated poster on the Ebola Virus (click on the image on the right for a larger view)

The Ebola Virus is the causative agent of a severe form of viral hemorrhagic fever in humans with a 50-90% fatality rate. The Ebola Virion is only 80 nanometers in diameter and up to 1400 nanometers long. It contains both virus-encoding proteins (macron shades) and structures taken from the host cell (gray shades). The 3D model is based on X-ray analysis, NMR spectroscopy data, and general virology publications from the last two decades.

The creators of this poster are based in Russia at the Visual Science group. Ivan Konstantinov and his colleagues drew on existing scientific information to depict the 3-dimensional structure of the Ebola virus, responsible for numerous fatal outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever throughout many parts of Africa. The virus which is only 1400 nanometers in length, is not a simple pathogen, says the artist Ivan Konstantinov, instead it contains about 3 million lipids and protein molecules. The poster also provides a good look at how the Ebola virus becomes dangerous. Proteins coded by the virus’s own genome are shown here in the color maroon. They’re like the pathogen’s own Velcro, clinging onto the surface of target cells and giving the virus access to their cellular interior where the virus can be replicated.

A high-resolution version of this poster – including a nice zoom function for the astonishing graphic details – can be found on Visual Science.

Credits for this work: Ivan Konstantinov, Yury Stefanov, Alexander Kovalevsky and Anastasya Bakulina from Visual Science.