Plant cell physiology: Schultze's maceration method.

Various solutions are used to separate a tissue into its individual cells. These solutions dissolve or weaken the middle lamella so that the cells are easily shaken or teased apart. Schultze used strong nitric acid and potassium chlorate. Put the material, which should be in very small pieces, into a test-tube; pour on just enough nitric acid to cover it, and then add a few crystals of potassium chlorate. Heat gently until bubbles are evolved, and let the reagent act until the material becomes white. Four or five minutes should be sufficient. The fumes are disagreeable and are very injurious to microscopes. Pour the contents of the tube into a dish of water. After the material is thoroughly washed in water, it may be teased with needles and mounted, or it may be put into a bottle of water and shaken until many of the cells become dissociated.

After a thorough washing in water, the material may be stained. The large tracheids of ferns, dissociated in this way and stained in safranin or methyl green, make beautiful preparations.

Return to Methods in Plant Histology