A simplified method for differential staining of aborted and non-aborted pollen grains

Main Article Content

Ross Peterson
Janet P. Slovin
Changbin Chen *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Changbin Chen | chenx481@umn.edu


The ability to use chemical staining to discriminate aborted from non-aborted pollen grains has well-known practical applications in agriculture. A commonly used technique for assessing pollen vitality, Alexander’s stain, uses chloral hydrate, phenol and mercuric chloride, all of which are highly toxic. We describe here an improved pollen staining technique that avoids the use of a regulated chemical chloral hydrate and two extremely toxic chemicals mercuric chloride and phenol, and requires a much shorter time period for sample preparation and staining. This simplified method is very useful for field studies without high-end equipments such as fluorescence microscopes. Samples can be collected and fixed in the fields and examined in a simple laboratory that has light microscopes.

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Article Details

Author Biographies

Ross Peterson, University of Minnesota

Department of Horticultural Science

Undergraduate researcher

Janet P. Slovin, USDA

Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory

Research Plant Physiologist

Changbin Chen, University of Minnesota

Department of Horticultural Science

Research Assistant Professor