Effects of relative humidity and applied force on atomic force microscopy images of the S-form of phage fd
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The filamentous phage fd was converted to spheroidal shaped S-forms and studied by contact-mode atomic force microscopy under conditions of controlled differences in relative humidity coupled with changes in the applied tip force. Stable and reliable sample preparation was achieved by spin-coating freshly cleaved mica with particle containing solutions with very low salt content followed by humidity control. The filaments of fd form a plateau and then drop in height as increased force is applied . The apparent height, however, of the S-forms decreased linearly as force increased, due to their nonrigid side chain packing. The findings that relative humidity plays a role on reliable and reproducible images is consistent with previously published results on other biological specimens.