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Preparation of epidermal strips from fossil plants by the peel method

, : Preparation of epidermal strips from fossil plants by the peel method. Annals of Botany (London) 40(170): 1321-1322

During work on silicified rhizome fragments of Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud (= P. communis Trin.) collected from the Pleistocene of El-Fayum, Egypt, transverse sections of fossil specimens were prepared but it was difficult to distinguish the epidermis in these sections. Because features of the epidermis are more diagnostic than features of other tissues, it was necessary to examine the epidermis of the fossil specimens, as far as possible, in surface view. Since the specimens were somewhat fragile their surface would not stand the usual stages of polishing and etching. These stages were dropped and the technique was started directly by pouring acetone on the surface of the fossil rhizome and gently laying a piece of cellulose acetate film (0.075 mm thick) across the surface of the rhizome, leaving it to dry and then peeling it off as usual in the peel technique. The film obtained by this treatment was comparable to epidermal strips obtained from extant plant specimens. The prepared film made it possible to correct the previous assignation, by Kraeusel (1924) of a similar fossil specimen, from the same locality, to the family Cyperaceae. At places on the rhizome surface where the epidermis was removed the prepared peel, without etching, showed a longitudinal section of the cortical cells. With similarly preserved fossil specimens, for the purpose of preparing cellulose films showing surface view of the epidermis or the outermost layer of cells, it may be worthwhile to prepare the peels directly without polishing and etching.

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