Visualization Software for Molecular Assemblies

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2007 Oct;17(5):587-95. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2007 Aug 28.


Software for viewing three-dimensional models and maps of viruses, ribosomes, filaments, and other molecular assemblies is advancing on many fronts. New developments include molecular representations that offer better control over level of detail, lighting that improves the perception of depth, and two-dimensional projections that simplify data interpretation. Programmable graphics processors offer quality, speed, and visual effects not previously possible, while 3D printers, haptic interaction devices, and auto-stereo displays show promise in more naturally engaging our senses. Visualization methods are developed by diverse groups of researchers with differing goals: experimental biologists, database developers, computer scientists, and package developers. We survey recent developments and problems faced by the developer community in bringing innovative visualization methods into widespread use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Nucleic Acids / chemistry
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Ribosomes / chemistry
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure
  • Software*
  • Viruses / chemistry
  • Viruses / ultrastructure


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Proteins