Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
REVIEW

Cryo-scanning electron microscopy (CSEM) in the advancement of functional plant biology. Morphological and anatomical applications

Margaret E. McCully A D , Martin J. Canny B and Cheng X. Huang C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Division of Plant Industry, CSIRO, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Functional Ecology Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

C Electron Microscopy Unit, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: margaret.mccully@csiro.au

Functional Plant Biology 36(2) 97-124 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP08304
Submitted: 27 November 2008  Accepted: 15 December 2008   Published: 5 February 2009

Abstract

Cryo-scanning electron microscopy (CSEM) is reviewed by exploring how the images obtained have changed paradigms of plant functions and interactions with their environment. Its power to arrest and stabilise plant parts in milliseconds, and to preserve them at full hydration for examination at micrometre resolution has changed many views of plant function. For example, it provides the only feasible way of accurately measuring stomatal aperture during active transpiration, and volume and shape changes in guard cells, or examining the contents of laticifers. It has revealed that many xylem conduits contain gas, not liquid, during the day, and that they can be refilled with sap and resume water transport. It has elucidated the management of ice to prevent cell damage in frost tolerant plants and has revealed for the first time inherent biological and physical features of root/soil interactions in the field. CSEM is increasingly used to reveal complementary structural information in studies of metabolism, fungal infection and symbiosis, molecular and genetic analysis.

Additional keywords: biopores, cryo-fixation, cryo-planing, cut flowers, desiccated tissues, exudation of liquids, food microscopy, frost resistance, fungal infection, hydrated tissues, intercellular spaces, laticifers, lichen water content, mucilage phase change, mycorrhizas, naturally frozen tissues, pathogenic fungi, pit membranes, resin canals, rhizosheath, rhizosphere, roots in soil, soil fauna, spittle bugs, stomatal aperture, surface wax structure, symbiotic fungi, tyloses, vessel lining, xylem embolism.


Acknowledgements

We thank the many researchers and journals who have freely provided us with micrographs or given permission to reproduce published images, and the referees for very helpful comments.


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