Freeze shattering: a simple and effective method for permeabilizing higher plant cell walls

J Microsc. 1997 Oct;188(Pt 1):51-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2818.1977.2390796.x.


This article describes a practical technique for permeabilization of higher plant cell walls, which is usually one of the first steps required for immunolocalization of cellular components (and other cytological methods) in plant cell studies. Our strategy involves shattering the walls of cells while the tissues are frozen in liquid nitrogen. It replaces the use of wall degrading enzymes or the need to employ laborious sectioning or other mechanical means for providing access of probes to cells. Freeze-shattering retains the integrity of whole tissues and cells surprisingly well and thus is especially useful when used in conjunction with confocal laser scanning microscopy for recording the three-dimensional arrangement of cytoskeletal elements in relation to cell shape. In this article, we demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique for anti-tubulin and anti-actin immunofluorescence and for rhodamine phalloidin labelling of the cytoskeleton in various higher plant tissues including onion root tip and bulb scale epidermis, Tradescantia stamen hairs and Arabidopsis leaf epidermis and mesophyll cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Freeze Fracturing / methods*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Permeability
  • Plant Cells*
  • Plant Epidermis / ultrastructure
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure
  • Plant Roots / ultrastructure
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Tubulin / immunology
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Tubulin