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. 2020 Jan 31;17(1):13.
doi: 10.1186/s12985-020-1291-9.

Virus Goes Viral: An Educational Kit for Virology Classes

Free PMC article

Virus Goes Viral: An Educational Kit for Virology Classes

Gabriel Augusto Pires de Souza et al. Virol J. .
Free PMC article


Background: Viruses are the most numerous entities on Earth and have also been central to many episodes in the history of humankind. As the study of viruses progresses further and further, there are several limitations in transferring this knowledge to undergraduate and high school students. This deficiency is due to the difficulty in designing hands-on lessons that allow students to better absorb content, given limited financial resources and facilities, as well as the difficulty of exploiting viral particles, due to their small dimensions. The development of tools for teaching virology is important to encourage educators to expand on the covered topics and connect them to recent findings. Discoveries, such as giant DNA viruses, have provided an opportunity to explore aspects of viral particles in ways never seen before. Coupling these novel findings with techniques already explored by classical virology, including visualization of cytopathic effects on permissive cells, may represent a new way for teaching virology. This work aimed to develop a slide microscope kit that explores giant virus particles and some aspects of animal virus interaction with cell lines, with the goal of providing an innovative approach to virology teaching.

Methods: Slides were produced by staining, with crystal violet, purified giant viruses and BSC-40 and Vero cells infected with viruses of the genera Orthopoxvirus, Flavivirus, and Alphavirus. Slides with amoebae infected with different species of giant viruses and stained with hemacolor reagents were also produced.

Results: Staining of the giant viruses allowed better visualization of the viral particles, and this technique highlights the diversity in morphology and sizes among them. Hemacolor staining enabled visualization of viral factories in amoebae, and the staining of infected BSC-40 and Vero cell monolayers with crystal violet highlights plaque-forming units.

Conclusions: This kit was used in practical virology classes for the Biological Sciences course (UFMG, Brazil), and it will soon be made available at a low-cost for elementary school teachers in institutions that have microscopes. We hope this tool will foster an inspiring learning environment.

Keywords: Alphavirus; Didactic material; Flavivirus; Giant viruses; Microbiology education, biology education; Mimivirus; Poxvirus; Virology; Virology education.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Presentation of different giant virus particles (cedratvirus, pandoravirus, orpheovirus, Niemeyer virus and tupanvirus) and viral factories of Niemeyer virus under light microscopy. Visualization and comparison of optical and electron micrographs for visualization of viral morphology and factories. Total magnification is 1000x
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Cytopathic effects of orthopoxvirus in BSC-40 cells. Monolayers of cells infected or not infected with orthopoxvirus and stained with crystal violet. Visualization of inclusion corpuscle in an eosin-stained infected cell is also shown. Total magnification is 100x
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Cytopathic effects of arboviruses in Vero cells. Monolayers of cells infected or not infected with arboviruses (flavivirus and alphavirus) and stained with crystal violet. Total magnification is 100x
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
“Virus Goes Viral” kit. The stock of kit blades that highlights the individual labels

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