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Sectioning Root Tissue: Supplies and General information

Supplies

  • Pink or red dental wax
  • Piece of glass, as large or slightly larger than dental wax (can use pane from a cheap picture frame)
  • Water, (about 100 mL in a beaker)
  • Plastic transfer and disposable glass pipettes
  • Wash bottle of water
  • Wash bottle of 50% ethanol
  • Watch glasses and/or planchette  
  • Double-edged teflon-coated razor blades
  • Forceps (one pair of fine pointed, another less fine)
  • Scalpels (disposable or not)
  • Fine paintbrushes (having a pair is good) and/or sharpened orange sticks to transfer sections
  • Slides
  • Cover slips
  • Dissecting microscope - doesn't have to be a fancy one
  • Sharpies and wax pencils
  • Paper for covering the lab bench

General Information

Plant tissue may be sectioned free-hand or embedded, and may be fresh or preserved. Unembedded tissue may or may not be preserved in a fixative, but the decision to do so will affect the quality of tissue and might possibly require slight alterations in your sectioning method (see “Tips on Preserving Roots”).  Alternately, thinner roots may be embedded in other plant tissue or in more traditional media before sectioning (see “Sectioning Embedded Roots”).  Most beginners find that preserved and unembedded tissue is easiest to section, although with some practice all of the above may be mastered.  For fresh tissue, it is best to keep the plants roots in water most of the time, either in a test tube or in a petri dish.  It is important to pay special attention to handling unembedded tissues with care, as they are easily damaged.  While it is possible to take sections with the naked eye, a dissecting microscope is very helpful in controlling the range of thickness, ensuring that sections are of even thickness, and in preventing nicked fingertips.