A dragon entangled in a viral icosahedral capsid

About the Logo


Viruses in nature self-assemble into energetically stable shapes composed of repeating units. They mostly tend to be either icosahedral or helical. Many of the viruses that impact humans, such as influenza and HIV, are icosahedral in shape, that is, they have an icosahedral outer protein coat or capsid. The icosahedron is a 20-sided polyhedron composed of varying numbers of pentagons and hexagons. Two dimensional images of icosahedral viruses often appear as hexagons with varying degrees of triangulation.

Electron micrograph of Sulfolobus Turreted Icosahedral Virus (STIV) taken by George Rice of Montana State University, and cryo-reconstruction done by Liand Tang of the Scripps Research Institute

The HERE BE DRAGONS logo is an artist's conception of a dragon embedded in a viral icosahedral capsid. Dragons may inhabit myths and legends, but viruses and indeed all organisms invoke a similar sense of wonder in the minds of biologists. Viruses especially stand out. They are organisms of such great mystique that there is ceaseless debate on whether they are organisms at all. 

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