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SCIN 130 Lab 5: Viruses


General Instructions


Most people have heard of influenza, HIV, and rabies. Zika, human papillomavirus (HPV), and Ebola have recently made headlines. Adenovirus, T7 virus, and tobacco mosaic viruses are familiar to researchers and science students. What do these viruses have in common? And how are they different?

Specific Lab Instructions:

Go to: http://media.hhmi.org/biointeractive/click/virus-explorer/index.html

And work through the following questions.

Let’s first make sure you understand what information is presented, and how it is. Click on the “About” tab at the bottom of the page.

Read the information in this section, then answer the following:

  1. List four (4) ways in which viruses can differ from each other





  1. This interactive uses several abbreviations. Fill in what each abbreviation stands for in the table below.
Abbreviation Description
  1. Close the “About” window.
  2. Locate the inext to each viral characteristic tab across the top of the page.

Click on these icons and answer the questions in your own words (do NOT simply copy and paste from the site or you will not receive credit):

  1. Envelope: Not all viruses have an envelope. If a virus has this outer layer, explain how it forms.
  2. Structure: What determines the shape of the capsid, or core?
  3. Host(s): From the virus’ perspective, why is the host important?
  4. Genome Type: Viral genomes may vary by four characteristics of their genetic information. What are they?
  5. Transmission: Define the terms “vector” and “zoonotic.”
  6. Vaccine: What is one advantage of being vaccinated against a particular virus?
  7. Virus Scavenger Hunt: Use the home page of Virus Explorer and the various viral characteristic tabs across the top to answer the questions below.
  8. What is one difference between the rabies virus and the influenza virus?
  9. Of the nine viruses shown, which is the only one that infects plants?
  10. What is one characteristic that adenoviruses and papillomaviruses have in common?
  11. Recently, the Zika virus has been in the news. Treatment of it is of particular concern. Why?
  12. Locate the + next to each virus name.

Click on these icons and answer the questions below associated with selected viruses.

  1. Rabies virus: People often associate rabies virus with dogs. Why is this incomplete?
  2. Influenza virus: Influenza virus has a segmented genome. Why is this an advantage for the virus?
  3. HIV: HIV infects immune cells. Why is this a disadvantage to the infected person?
  4. Zika virus: Why is the Zika virus of great concern to pregnant women?
  5. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV): Name one unique characteristic of the tobacco mosaic virus.
  6. How big is a virus anyway? Click on the “Show Relative Sizes of the Viruses” tab at the bottom of the interactive home page.
  7. Answer the following questions using the white scale bar at the bottom of the page for size comparison. Remember to include your units!!
  8. Using the white scale bar provided, approximately how long (tall) is TMV?
  9. What is the approximate diameter of HIV?
  10. What is the approximate diameter of the Zika virus?

Adapted from: Click and Learn “Virus Explorer” (2016). Virus Explorer Worksheet. HHMI Biointeractive Teaching Materials.


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