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Permanganate Fixation of Plant Cells

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The Rockefeller University Press
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Abstract

In an evaluation of procedures explored to circumvent some of the problems of osmium tetroxide-fixation and methacrylate embedding of plant materials, excised segments of root tips of Zea mays were fixed for electron microscopy in potassium permanganate in the following treatment variations: unbuffered and veronal-acetate buffered solutions of 0.6, 2.0, and 5.0 per cent KMnO4 at pH 5.0, 6.0, 6.7, and 7.5, and temperatures of 2–4°C. and 22°C. After fixation the segments were dehydrated, embedded in epoxy resin, sectioned, and observed or photographed. The cells of the central region of the rootcap are described. The fixation procedures employing unbuffered solutions containing 2.0 to 5.0 per cent KMnO4 at a temperature of 22°C. gave particularly good preservation of cell structure and all membrane systems. Similar results were obtained using a solution containing 2.0 per cent KMnO4, buffered with veronal-acetate to pH 6.0, and a fixation time of 2 hours at 22°C. The fixation procedure utilizing veronal-acetate buffered, 0.6 per cent KMnO4 at 2–4°C. and pH 6.7 also gave relatively good preservation of most cellular constituents. However, preservation of the plasma membrane was not so good, nor was the intensity of staining so great, as that with the group of fixatives containing greater concentrations of KMnO4. The other fixation procedures did not give satisfactory preservation of fine structure. A comparison is made of cell structures as fixed in KMnO4 or OsO4.

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