STEREOLOGY, AN UNBIASED METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH TO STUDY PLANT ANATOMY AND CYTOLOGY: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Keywords:chloroplast, confocal microscopy, leaf anatomy, mesophyll, stereological methods, systematic uniform random sampling
This review presents an historical overview of stereological methods used for the quantitative evaluation of plant anatomical and cytological structures. It includes the origins of these methods up to the most recent developments such as the application of stereology based on 3D images. We focus especially on leaf, as the vast majority of studies of plant microscopic structure examine this organ. An overview of plant cell ultrastructure measurements as well as plant anatomical characteristics (e.g. plant tissue volume density, internal leaf surface area, number and mean size of mesophyll cells and chloroplast number), which were estimated by stereological methods most frequently, is presented. We emphasize the importance of proper sampling needed for unbiased measurements. Furthermore, we mention other methods used for plant morphometric studies and briefly discuss their relevance, precision, unbiasedness and efficiency in comparison with unbiased stereology. Finally, we discuss reasons for the sparse use of stereology in plant anatomy and consider the future of stereology in plant research.
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