The new method will enable scientists to study the internal anatomy of specimens without dissecting them.
A research team from the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, the Tokyo University of Science and Kumamoto University found that by soaking a piece of plant in a liquid mixture of four chemicals, including thiodiethanol, the pigments in the cells are replaced by transparent chemical substances.
In their experiments, a sample of thale cress took two hours to turn transparent and a rice plant took four to five hours.
Until now, studies of the vascular structures of plants have taken much longer because scientists had to cut a specimen into dozens to hundreds of thin slices to make microscopic observations.
“(The new technique) will make it possible to see where pests have infested in fruits and vegetables,” said Sachihiro Matsunaga, a professor of applied biological science at the Tokyo University of Science.
The team’s discovery was published on 29 Feb in the international academic journal Plant and Cell Physiology.
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