Autofluorescence Reveals Some Cool Things!

In the image below we see a shard of plant material from a hay infusion (see latest YouTube episode for info) under regular microscope lighting. There’s not much detail other than cell walls and maybe some green chloroplasts, right?!

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But what if we expose this plant material to UV light under the microscope? Most tissues, including plant tissues do something really cool. They give off light (usually in a longer wave length than the light they are hit with). This is called autofluorescence and we can actually use this property of tissue to gather interesting information. In the image below the same tissue from picture 1 (above) autofluoresces and reveals the plant stoma which are the guard cells on the plant surface. These guard cells open and close to allow gas exchange between the plant and the environment.  Pretty cool, huh?

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