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Holger Gärtner

Forschungsanstalt WSL

Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Dendroecology
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Article

Author(s): Holger Gärtner, Fritz H. Schweingruber
Editorial office: WSL, Switzerland
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Microscopic Preparation Techniques for Plant Stem Analysis

Book presentation

The authors aim to present basic preparation techniques in wood anatomy, in an understandable way and supported by many photographs and illustrations. Practical tips and tricks are given.

book cover

This booklet results from the experiences of teaching Wood Anatomy & Tree-Ring Ecology courses, during which we realized that there is a deficit  regarding available information on the practical aspect of wood  anatomical work.

We aim to present basic preparation techniques in wood anatomy, in an understandable way and supported by many photographs and illustrations. This booklet is intended for experts and beginners in wood anatomy that  come from various fields of research such as dendrochronology, ecology,  archeology, geography, forestry and botany.

We provide instructions on how to produce permanent, high-quality micro  sections, using techniques which are simple to apply. The methods  proposed are suitable for analyzing living and dead wood as well as  bark, from herbs, shrubs and trees, growing in wet to dry environments.  Special attention is given to the use of collecting, polishing and  sectioning tools for observations on sample surfaces and micro slides.  Various ecologically significant and well-established staining methods  are demonstrated to highlight cell contents and cell walls from very  soft to very dense and even artificial material such as plywood.  Furthermore, bleaching and staining processes are described to allow  analysis of fibers and fungal hyphae in decomposed wood.

By presenting many practical tips and tricks (e.g. using cheap disposal  blades, unrolling sections, avoiding cell-wall destruction, sectioning  very soft material and charcoal, and preparation errors), we intend to  support scientists and reduce frustration that may occur during  laboratory work.

This booklet does not intend to present all existing microscopic  preparation techniques, but instead intends to provide advice on the  most common techniques. We encourage readers to apply the techniques  presented herein, and also to further develop the techniques based on  their experiences and results.

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