Center: Detail of La Malaria (1850-1851), oil on canvas by French artist Antoine Auguste Ernest Hébert (1817-1908), who spent nearly thirty years in Italy, where the light, color and life of Roman streets and countryside captivated him. Hébert became acquainted with malaria, a disease that was widespread in vast areas in Italy, including the Pontine marshes, southeast of Rome. Hébert’s painting conveyed admirably the melancholy of diseased country people and the blurring pestilential environment where they lived. The mala aria (bad air) can be indeed perceived in the painting, one of the best-known works of the artist (see article by PL Alonso, pp. 83-93, this issue, article by E. Capanna, in Int. Microbiol. 9:69-74, latest issue, and the whole painting).

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×)