Accurate virus quantitation using a Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) detector in a scanning electron microscope

J Virol Methods. 2017 Oct:248:136-144. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2017.06.014. Epub 2017 Jun 29.


A method for accurate quantitation of virus particles has long been sought, but a perfect method still eludes the scientific community. Electron Microscopy (EM) quantitation is a valuable technique because it provides direct morphology information and counts of all viral particles, whether or not they are infectious. In the past, EM negative stain quantitation methods have been cited as inaccurate, non-reproducible, and with detection limits that were too high to be useful. To improve accuracy and reproducibility, we have developed a method termed Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy - Virus Quantitation (STEM-VQ), which simplifies sample preparation and uses a high throughput STEM detector in a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) coupled with commercially available software. In this paper, we demonstrate STEM-VQ with an alphavirus stock preparation to present the method's accuracy and reproducibility, including a comparison of STEM-VQ to viral plaque assay and the ViroCyt Virus Counter.

Keywords: Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy Detector; Virus quantitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning / methods*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning Transmission / instrumentation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Software
  • Viral Load / methods*
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • Viruses / ultrastructure*