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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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