Microscopy and Sample Prep Solutions for Virology

The study of virus-infected tissues and cells to understand infection mechanisms and develop treatments for disease has dramatic implications for human health. Leica solutions for imaging and sample preparation help you with the investigation of viral entry and fusion, genome integration, viral replication, assembly, and virus budding. Data from analysis of well-prepared specimens also are important for studying the related cellular mechanisms and immune responses. The ultimate goal is to develop intervention strategies.

Viruses are investigated from the biopsy to single virion level. Some of the most common viruses studied are influenza, coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19, etc.), herpes, hepatitis, dengue, zika, HIV, rabies, and Ebola, but there are many others.

Leica experts are available to help you find the right solutions for your virology research.

Simply get in touch!

Our experts for imaging and sample preparation solutions concerning virology applications are happy to help you find the solution for your needs.

Host side of the virus infection process

For virology research model organisms are sometimes used, however, they do not mimic well the human host morphology. Hence, researchers more often rely on human tissue, biopsies, or cell culture studies.

Ex vivo infection models can be generated from tissue, biopsies, or animal models. These models can be investigated with the aid of Leica stereo microscopes.

Cell cultures, spheroids, and organoids can be monitored with the help of Leica widefield (compound) microscopes.

Further initial investigations of infection models, 2D or 3D cell cultures, are achieved with more sophisticated Leica fluorescence microscopes, such as THUNDER imagers.

More reliable downstream genetic analysis can be done with laser microdissection from Leica Microsystems which isolates specific cells from surrounding tissue.

Examples of virus applications studied with Leica solutions are given in the application note: Microscopy in Virology.

High resolution fluorescence imaging for virology research

High resolution microscopy is an asset for infectious disease studies as it allows you to track causative viruses or pathogens. Combined with fluorescent labelling of cellular or viral components, it enables you to probe multiple aspects of infection processes.

Thus, both laser scanning confocal and total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy obtaining super-resolution are instruments of choice for viral research.

Advanced microscopy techniques, such as multiphoton and light sheet microscopy, can give you access to infection events occurring under different contexts, such as tissue sections, animal models, and 3D infection models like organoids.

Leica microscopes offering you advantages for the study of 3D specimens concerning virology research include the STELLARIS confocal platform and TIRF solutions.

Image and diagram adapted from Coomer et al. PLOS Pathogen (2020) 16(2): e1008359, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008359

Ultrastructure of viruses

For the evaluation of virus ultrastructure, you need a resolution approaching 1 nm. At present, this resolution can only be achieved with electron microscopy. Cryo EM can achieve even sub-nanometer resolution.

Ultrastructural resolution allows you to actually see the host and virus interaction at the nanoscale, as well as confirm the results from different analytical technologies and identify potential drug target sites. Furthermore, ligands or small molecules of cell surface receptors targeted during viral particle interactions are key to the structure-guided design of vaccines and viral entry inhibitors.

For conventional and cryo EM, the sample preparation is crucial. It requires special equipment and expertise which Leica Microsystems offers you via an extensive portfolio for EM sample preparation as well as the advice from Leica experts.

Related products

Leica Microsystems offers you a variety of imaging and sample preparation solutions. They include widefield (stereo and compound) microscopes with fluorescence and brightfield, confocal and TIRF (total internal reflection fluorescence) microscopes achieving super-resolution, CLEM (correlative light and electron microscopy), laser microdissection, and electron microscopy sample prep systems.


Filter by Area of Application
Scientific CMOS camera K8


Scientific CMOS camera - For Life Science Imaging Applications and Analysis


The THUNDER Imager EM Cryo CLEM enables precise identification of cellular structures and smooth, secure transfer of coordinates, images, and samples through your correlative workflow.

THUNDER Imager Model Organism

THUNDER Imager Model Organism

The THUNDER Imager Model Organism allows fast and easy 3D exploration of whole organisms for developmental or molecular biology research.

THUNDER Imager Live Cell & 3D Assay

THUNDER Imager Live Cell & 3D Assay

THUNDER Imagers provide you with a solution for advanced 3D cell culture assays, whether you want to study stem cells, spheroids, or organoids.

THUNDER Imager Tissue

THUNDER Imager Tissue

The THUNDER Imager Tissue allows real-time fluorescence imaging of 3D tissue sections typically used in neuroscience and histology research.

Automatic Plunge Freezer EM GP2


Automatic Plunge Freezer

Leica DM4 B & DM6 B

Increase work efficiency with Leica DM4 B & DM6 B upright digital research microscopes.

Inverted Microscope for Cell and Tissue Culture DMi1


Entry level inverted microscope

Laser Microdissection Microscope Leica LMD6 & Leica LMD7

Leica LMD6 & LMD7

Laser Microdissection enables users to isolate specific single cells or entire areas of tissue.

Virology related articles

Read our latest articles about Virology

The knowledge portal of Leica Microsystems offers scientific research and teaching material on the subjects of microscopy. The content is designed to support beginners, experienced practitioners and scientists alike in their everyday work and experiments.

More Articles
Section of mouse lung

Monitoring Immunosuppressive Mechanisms from Infection

This application note discusses the importance of fast, sensitive, and haze-free imaging for the monitoring of immunosuppression in mouse lung epithelial tissue infected with the Puerto Rico 8…
Read article
Images from 2 time-lapse series of the same Sf21 moth larval cells

Studying Actin Cytoskeleton and Microfilament Assembly

This article demonstrates how actin microfilament assemblies can be clearly visualized with superior resolution at the plasma membrane of a cell using a DMi8 S Infinity TIRF High Power imaging…
Read article

Exploring the Structure and Life Cycle of Viruses

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak started in late December 2019 and has since reached a global pandemic, leading to a worldwide battle against COVID-19. The ever-evolving electron microscopy methods offer a…
Read article
Influenza (red) infected primary porcine lung epithelial grown in a multilayer of about 60 µm

Influenza-host Interactions in 3D Specimens

Stefan Finke studies virus-host interactions. It turns out that the ways the virus and host interact are different when comparing results from classical laboratory monolayer cell lines and “close to…
Read article

Coronavirus Replication in Host Cells

In this study, a molecular pore complex, which spans both membranes of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 virus-induced cytosolic vesicles and likely plays a role in replication, was visualized.
Read article
Image courtesy of Dr. Stefan Finke, Friedrich-Loeffler- Institute, Riems, Germany.

How Can Immunofluorescence Aid Virology Research?

Modern virology research has become as crucial now as ever before due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. There are many powerful technologies and assays that virologists can apply to their research into…
Read article

Upright Fluorescence Microscopy for Virus Replication Studies

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in late 2019 and spread over the world quickly. Due to its dramatic impact, researchers are interested in the nature of the…
Read article

Microscopy in Virology

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, causing the Covid-19 disease effects our world in all aspects. Research to find immunization and treatment methods, in other words to fight this virus, gained highest…
Read article

Interested to know more?

Talk to our experts. We are happy to answer all your questions and concerns.

Contact Us

Do you prefer personal consulting?