Plant cell physiology: Land's gelatin method

It is sometimes desirable to get sections of partly disorganized material. A matrix is necessary to hold the parts in place, but dehydration may make the tissue unnecessarily hard to cut.

Soak ordinary gelatin (which can be obtained at the grocery) in water until no more is taken up. Then drain off the excess water and liquefy the gelatin by heating. Place the material-previously soaked in water-in the melted gelatin and keep it there for several hours. Place also in the gelatin some small blocks of hard wood to serve as supports in the microtome. The material to be sectioned is oriented in a gelatin matrix on the supporting blocks, cooled until the gelatin sets, and then placed in strong formalin to harden the gelatin. In cutting, flood the knife with water.

If the material is to be stained, stain it in bulk before putting it into the gelatin, since the gelatin stains very deeply. Of course, the gelatin could be dissolved with hot water, or hot water and acetic acid, but all the advantage of a matrix would be lost.

It would be worth while to try this method thoroughly with soft, succulent tissues and with hard tissues which become still harder if dehydrated.

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