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Transverse Sectioning of Mature Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Kernels for Scanning Electron Microscopy Imaging Using Pipette Tips as Immobilization Support

Jordan Demone1, Ryo Matsushima2, Illimar Altosaar1,3


Starch granules (SGs) exhibit different morphologies depending on the plant species, especially in the endosperm of the Poaceae family. Endosperm phenotyping can be used to classify genotypes based on SG morphotype using scanning electron microscopic (SEM) analysis. SGs can be visualized using SEM by slicing through the kernel (pericarp, aleurone layers, and endosperm) and exposing the organellar contents. Current methods require the rice kernel to be embedded in plastic resin and sectioned using a microtome or embedded in a truncated pipette tip and sectioned by hand using a razor blade. The former method requires specialized equipment and is time-consuming, while the latter introduces a new host of problems depending on rice genotype. Chalky rice varieties, particularly, pose a problem for this type of sectioning due to the friable nature of their endosperm tissue. Presented here is a technique for preparing translucent and chalky rice kernel sections for microscopy, requiring only pipette tips and a scalpel blade. Preparing the sections within the confines of a pipette tip prevents rice kernel endosperm from shattering (for translucent or ‘vitreous’ phenotypes) and crumbling (for chalky phenotypes). Using this technique, endosperm cell patterning and the structure of intact SGs can be observed.

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