Mayer's hemalum-methyl salicylate: a stain-clearing technique for observations within whole ovules.
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Nondissected ovaries of tuber-bearing Solanum sp. were stained with Mayer's hemalum, a positive stain for chromatin and nucleoli, and then optically cleared with methyl salicylate, a clearing agent. Clarity, resolution and contrast within the ovules dissected from ovaries were comparable to those of sectioned, paraffin embedded ovaries. Contrast within ovules greatly exceeded that of unstained and nonspecifically stained clearings, and eliminated the need of special optics, i.e., Nomarski interference-contrast optics, for optimal viewing and photography. Much less time and labor were required than for embedded specimens. Usefulness of the technique for cytogenetic and cytological research was verified by analyzing meiosis and other features of megasporogenesis and megagametogenesis in normal, and in two meiotic mutants, of Solanum. The results illustrate the usefulness of combined Mayer's hemalum staining and methyl salicylate clearing, and suggest additional stain-clearing agent combinations have potential for cytological and cytogenetic research. Preliminary results with other species suggest the technique may also be useful for classroom instruction.