Robley Williams and Harold Fisher in 1970 developed the technique of minimal electron beam exposure which they have used to demonstrate 31 viruses of plants, insects, and vertebrate animals with remarkable clarity and detail. The wide variety of the authors' experience is illustrated by electron micrographs of the MS2 RNA phage and 7 DNA phages; 9 plant viruses (8 of them RNA-containing); cytoplasmic polyhedrosis and tipula iridescent viruses of insects; the familiar vertebrate animal viruses—influenza, Sendai, polio, reo, Rous sarcoma, vaccinia, papilloma, SV40, adeno and herpes; and viruses of both insects and vertebrates—Sindbis and vesicular stomatitis. The atlas is arranged to show first the fine structure of RNA-containing viruses, then that of DNA-containing viruses.
The text is less impressive than the micrographs. The introduction has an especially useful section on principles of virus structure, an area of special expertise of the authors. The pictures of each virus are accompanied by short descriptions of their history, biology, chemistry, and physical features.