This Is What a Virus Infecting a Cell Looks Like

By Jamie Condliffe on at

This isn't a cartoon tree or some strange piece of modern art. In fact, it's what researchers from the University of Texas at Austin saw when they managed to observe a virus in the act of penetrating a cell.

In the image, you can see a T7 virus (red) burrowing its way into an E. coli bacterium (green). The six yellow strands are actually rudimentary legs, which allow the virus to crawl over cells to find a weak spot and then infect them.

The image is the first time scientists have observed a virus inserting its tail into a cell to infect it. It's believed that the process allows it to infect a cell directly with its DNA. You can see it in action in the simulation below. The weirdest part? The fact that this all happens in your body, too. Ugh. [Science Express via Science, Space and Robots]