Cytological Technique: The Principles Underlying Routine Methods

By John R. Baker | Go to book overview

for neither acetic nor chromic acid affects metal; but this must be avoided when mercuric chloride is used, and a match-stick may then be used instead. A little cotton-wool at the bottom of the capsule containing the fixative will let the latter act on the piece of tissue from all sides, but this is only necessary when flat pieces of tissue are being fixed.


CHAPTER III
SIMPLE FIXATIVES

ETHYL ALCOHOL

Suitable concentration for fixation: 70-100%.

Ethyl alcohol, C2H5OH, is a colourless liquid, miscible with water in all proportions. It was introduced as an anatomical preservative by Robert Boyle in 1663. The discovery was made at Oxford ( Gunther, 1925). Although it is not a constituent of any of the fixing mixtures described in this book, alcohol in so important as a preservative of tissues that it could not well be omitted. It is sometimes useful in fixing cells for histochemical studies.

Alcohol is prepared from starchy substances, such as potatoes and grain, which are mashed up with water. Germinating barley grain is added. This contains an enzyme which changes the starch into sugars. Yeast is now added, and this converts the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Strong alcohol is obtained from this weak solution by distillation at 78° C. All except the last traces of water are removed from the distillate by quicklime. Commerical absolute alcohol contains less than 1/2% of water.

Alcohol is a reducing agent, being easily oxidized to acetaldehyde and thence to acetic acid. It must therefore not be used in mixtures with chromic acid, potassium dichromate or osmium tetroxide.

-42-

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Cytological Technique: The Principles Underlying Routine Methods
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface to the Second Edition v
  • Preface vi
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I - Introduction 1
  • Chapter III - Simple Fixatives 21
  • Chapter IV - Fixing Mixtures 42
  • Chapter V - Microtomy 104
  • Conclusion 171
  • Chapter VIII - Methods for Chromosomes, Mitochondria and the Golgi Element 172
  • List of References 198
  • Index 205
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