epidermal preps

Bill Williams WEWilliams at osprey.smcm.edu
Thu Jan 27 15:08:20 EST 2000

At 22:38 +0000 1/26/00, Douglas Jensen wrote:
>     Next semester I plan to have my botany students investigate the
>anatomy of an assigned plant.  As part of that, I'd like them to look at
>the patterns of epidermal cells and stomata.  My references (old plant
>microtechnique books), say that very few plants give good epidermal
>peels, and they suggest boiling leaves to loosen the epidermis.  I'm
>afraid this will make everything that's not highly lignified or succlent
>into cooked spinach, and I doubt I can get a peel from that.
>     I hope that someone on this list has a method that most students can
>learn in a short period of time, requires few (none is better) dangerous
>chemicals, is not too time consuming, and can be used on a wide variety
>of plants.  I'm not worried about making permanent slides.  Also, I
>don't mind fixing things myself, but would prefer it to be a short

Vicia and Commelina both make pretty good peels. The technique we've 
found works best is to place the leaf adaxial-side up (rightside up) 
on a cutting board and LIGHTLY drag a razor blade across it. The idea 
is to cut the upper epidermis and mesophyll without cutting through 
the lower epidermis (easier said than done, but not impossible). Fold 
the leaf down (so the two halves of the abaxial side come together) 
at the cut, use a fingernail, and peel. Even pretty sloppy-looking 
peels often have very good regions on them for microscopic 
observation.  Good luck!


William E. Williams
Biology Department
Saint Mary's College of Maryland
18952 E. Fisher Rd.
Saint Mary's City, MD  20686-3001

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