a1 Department of Cellular Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
a2 Forest Insect and Disease Laboratory, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hamden, Conn., U.S.A.
In general the characterization of a virus particle depends upon a number of known and independently acquired parameters, all of which require a great deal of time. As a direct method of measurement, the mass of viruses has been largely ignored in virus characterization studies. Where the molecular weight of viruses has been determined by sedimentation and diffusion, sedimentation equilibrium, light scattering, or the electron microscopy-counting procedure, the relationship between this property and mass has been arrived at by employing Avogadro's number. In the present report it will be demonstrated that the disadvantages found in these usual methods of determining molecular weight, such as experimentation, calculation of virus size, and purification of virus preparation, are not present in the quantitative electron microscopy method for determination of mass and molecular weight.