Open Access

Dynamic force microscopy for imaging of viruses under physiological conditions

  • Ferry Kienberger1,
  • Rong Zhu1, 2,
  • Rosita Moser3, 4,
  • Christian Rankl1,
  • Dieter Blaas3, 4 and
  • Peter Hinterdorfer1Email author
Biological Procedures Online6:610120

Received: 11 May 2004

Accepted: 9 June 2004


Dynamic force microscopy (DFM) allows imaging of the structure and the assessment of the function of biological specimens in their physiological environment. In DFM, the cantilever is oscillated at a given frequency and touches the sample only at the end of its downward movement. Accordingly, the problem of lateral forces displacing or even destroying bio-molecules is virtually inexistent as the contact time and friction forces are reduced. Here, we describe the use of DFM in studies of human rhinovirus serotype 2 (HRV2) weakly adhering to mica surfaces. The capsid of HRV2 was reproducibly imaged without any displacement of the virus. Release of the genomic RNA from the virions was initiated by exposure to low pH buffer and snapshots of the extrusion process were obtained. In the following, the technical details of previous DFM investigations of HRV2 are summarized.

Indexing terms

Microscopy, Atomic Force Rhinovirus