Background: Recently, a technique which departs radically from conventional approaches has been proposed. This novel technique utilizes biological objects such as viruses as nano-templates for the fabrication of nanostructure elements. For example, rod-shaped viruses such as the M13 phage and tobacco mosaic virus have been successfully used as biological templates for the synthesis of semiconductor and metallic nanowires. Results and discussion: Low wave number (≤ 20 cm-1) acoustic vibrations of the M13 phage have been studied using Raman spectroscopy. The experimental results are compared with theoretical calculations based on an elastic continuum model and appropriate Raman selection rules derived from a bond polarizability model. The observed Raman mode has been shown to belong to one of the Raman-active axial torsion modes of the M13 phage protein coat. Conclusion: It is expected that the detection and characterization of this low frequency vibrational mode can be used for applications in nanotechnology such as for monitoring the process of virus functionalization and self-assembly. For example, the differences in Raman spectra can be used to monitor the coating of virus with some other materials and nano-assembly process, such as attaching a carbon nanotube or quantum dots.