Life just before sem
Plant tissues must be dehydrated for observation in most electron microscopes. Although a number of sample processing techniques have been developed for preserving plant tissues in their original form and structure, none of them are guaranteed artefact-free. The current paper reviews common scanning electron microscopy techniques and the sample preparation methods employed for visualisation of leaves under specific types of electron microscopes. Common artefacts introduced by specific techniques on different leaf types are discussed. Comparative examples are depicted from our lab using similar techniques; the pros and cons for specific techniques are discussed. New promising techniques and microscopes, which can alleviate some of the problems encountered in conventional methods of leaf sample processing and visualisation, are also discussed. It is concluded that the choice of technique for a specific leaf sample is dictated by the surface features that need to be preserved (such as trichomes, epidermal cells or wax microstructure), the resolution to be achieved, availability of the appropriate processing equipment and the technical capabilities of the available electron microscope.