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Biophys J. 1998 Jan;74(1):669-77.

Phase behavior of mixtures of rods (tobacco mosaic virus) and spheres (polyethylene oxide, bovine serum albumin).

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  • 1Martin Fisher School of Physics, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254, USA.


Aqueous suspensions of mixtures of the rodlike virus tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) with globular macromolecules such as polyethylene oxide (PEO) or bovine serum albumin (BSA) phase separate and exhibit rich and strikingly similar phase behavior. Isotropic, nematic, lamellar, and crystalline phases are observed as a function of the concentration of the constituents and ionic strength. The observed phase behavior is considered to arise from attractions between the two particles induced by the presence of BSA or PEO. For the TMV/BSA mixtures, the BSA adsorbs to the TMV and bridging of the BSA between TMV produces the attractions. For TMV/PEO mixtures, attractions are entropically driven via excluded volume effects known alternatively as the "depletion interaction" or "macromolecular crowding."

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