, Volume 135, Issue 2–3, pp 80–87 | Cite as

Estimating viability of plant protoplasts using double and single staining

  • C. -N. Huang
  • M. J. Cornejo
  • D. S. Bush
  • R. L. Jones


The utility of numerous dyes for determining the viability of barley (Hordeum vulgare L. cv. Himalaya) aleurone protoplasts was studied. Protoplasts isolated from the barley aleurone layer synthesize and secrete α-amylase isozymes in response to treatment with gibberellic acid (GA) and Ca2+. These cells also undergo dramatic morphological changes which eventually result in cell death. To monitor the viability of protoplasts during incubation in GA and Ca2+, several types of fluorescent and nonfluorescent dyes were tested. Evans blue and methylene blue were selected as nonfluorescent dyes. Living cells exclude Evans blue, but dead cells and cell debris stain blue. Both living and dead cells take up methylene blue, but living cells reduce the dye to its colorless form whereas dead cells and cell debris stain blue. The relatively low extinction coefficient of these dyes sometimes makes it difficult to distinguish blue-stained cells against a background of blue dye. Several types of fluorescent dyes were tested for their ability to differentially stain dead or living cells. Tinopal CBS-X, for example, stains only dead cells, and its high extinction coefficient allows its ultraviolet fluorescence to be recorded even when preparations are simultaneously illuminated with visible light. To double-stain protoplasts, the most effective stain was a combination of fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and propidium iodide (PI). By employing a double-exposure method to record the fluorescence from cells stained with both FDA and PI, dead and living cells could be distinguished on the basis of fluorochromasia.


Barley aleurone Fluorescein diacetate Propidium iodide Protoplasts Viability determination Vital stains 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. -N. Huang
    • 1
  • M. J. Cornejo
    • 1
  • D. S. Bush
    • 1
  • R. L. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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