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Nat Protoc. 2012 Sep;7(9):1694-708. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2012.092. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Imaging of plant cell walls by confocal Raman microscopy.

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Department of Material Sciences and Process Engineering, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria.


Raman imaging of plant cell walls represents a nondestructive technique that can provide insights into chemical composition in context with structure at the micrometer level (<0.5 μm). The major steps of the experimental procedure are described: sample preparation (embedding and microcutting), setting the mapping parameters, and finally the calculation of chemical images on the basis of the acquired Raman spectra. Every Raman image is based on thousands of spectra, each being a spatially resolved molecular 'fingerprint' of the cell wall. Multiple components are analyzed within the native cell walls, and insights into polymer composition as well as the orientation of the cellulose microfibrils can be gained. The most labor-intensive step of this process is often the sample preparation, as the imaging approach requires a flat surface of the plant tissue with intact cell walls. After finishing the map (acquisition time is ∼10 min to 10 h, depending on the size of the region of interest and scanning parameters), many possibilities exist for the analysis of spectral data and image generation.

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