Biological Physics @ CMU

The Biological Physics Initiative
Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Physics

Alex Evilevitch' research in physical virology

Viral genome packaging and ejection

Evilevitch's physical virology group investigates fundamental physical principles that control viral encapsidation and genome release. Our group has discovered a way to determine genome pressure in viral capsid and found that to be as high as 40 atm in bacteriophage lambda, a pressure equivalent to that at a depth of 1200 ft in the ocean. We are specifically interested in determining the physical nature of genome packaging, the kinds of pressures involved, the strengths and elastic properties of the capsids, and limits on the amount of material that can be encapsidated. The main tools in the lab are: Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), microcalorimetry, and high-resolution cryo electron microscopy.

High-resolution AFM image of a bacteriophage. Insets show the topography of the head and the stem.



students working on this project:

  • Muwen Kong
  • Meerim Jeembaeva
  • Loubna Bendrioua



  • M. Jeembaeva, M. Castelnovo, F. Larsson, and A. Evilevitch, J. Mol. Biol. 381 310 (2008).
  • E. Nurmemmedov, M. Castelnovo, C. E. Catalano, and A. Evilevitch, Q. Rev. Biophys. 40 327 (2007).
  • I. Ivanovska, B. Jönsson, G. Wuite, and A. Evilevitch, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104 9603 (2007).


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