Center: Stained glass panel from the new School of Biology of the University of León, Spain. Following the tradition of those medieval craftsmen that made the beautiful stained glass windows of Leon’s Gothic Cathedral, the designers of the modern building have provided the University of Leon with un updated vision of the history and evolution of life. The inaugural lecture of the 20th National Congress of the SEM (September 2005, Cáceres, Spain) was given by Prof. Juan F. Martín, from the Biotechnological Institute and Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of León (see article by P. Liras and J.F. Martín, pp. 9-19, this issue).

Upper left: Negatively stained transmission electron micrograph of Hibiscus latent ringspot virus (HLRSV) particles identified on Hibiscus cannabinus plants (kenaf). Photographed by Concepció Rúbies and Gian Franco Filippini (DISTA, University of Bologna, Italy). (Magnification, ca. 100,000×)

Upper right: Scanning electron micrograph of Helicobacter felis isolated from the gastric mucosa of a cat. The characteristic spiral morphology and periplasmic fibers are shown. Micrograph courtesy of Lucinda Thompson (presently at Stanford University, USA), made at The University of New South Wales, Australia. (Magnification, ca. 10,000×)

Lower left: Phase-contrast micrograph of the tachyzoite phase of the protist (Apicomplexan) Toxoplasma gondii. Photographed by Braúlia Costa Caetano and Óscar Bruña-Romero (Departments of Biochemistry & Immunology, and Microbiology, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil). (Magnification, ca. 10,000×)

Lower right: Conidiospores of Alternaria alternata, a fungus of the Family Dematiaceae, in which several special forms produce specific phytotoxins against the host. The toxins give the fungus high specific pathogenicity against apple and pear trees, tobacco plant and citrics. This strain was isolated and photographed by Jordi Cabrefiga (Institute of Food and Agricultural Technology, University of Girona). (Magnification, ca. 7500×)