epidermal peels

Schmid, Katherine kschmid at butler.edu
Wed Jan 26 18:10:06 EST 2000

Douglas P. Jensen wrote:

>I'd like them to look at the patterns of epidermal cells and stomata.

If they only need the general arrangement and cell shapes, clear nail
polish works well (except on leaves that are really hairy).  Paint polish
on the living leaf and allow it to harden.  Then peel off the polish
layer, make a slide, and view the impressions left in the polish. Peeling 
is easier if you cut or snap the leaf within the polish area and work 
from there, rather than trying to peel from the thin edge of a nail 
polish application.  

I use this method for comparison of epidermal cell shapes or rough 
calculation of stomata density on upper vs. lower surfaces of leaves. 
However, we haven't been too successful recently at using nail polish to 
freeze the guard cells in the "open" position.  (That was the main use 
of the nail polish technique back in my student days.) My perception is 
that nail polish doesn't dry as quickly as it used to, perhaps because 
it has fewer "noxious chemicals" such as acetone than before ... but there 
is still a solvent smell to it.

Does anyone have suggestions for viewing open stomata (including
the "dumbbell" type)?

Dr. Katherine M. Schmid
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Butler University
4600 Sunset Ave.
Indianapolis IN  46208
kschmid at butler.edu

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