A method of direct visualization of cell organelles by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is described. Plant and animal tissues fixed in glutaraldehyde and osmium tetroxide are treated with the ligand thiocarbohydrazide and a second osmium tetroxide solution, to increase their osmium content. Tissues are then dehydrated, infiltrated with an epoxy monomer, and together solidified with dry ice and fractured. The pieces are transferred to pure acetone, critical-point dried, attached to stubs with silver paint and viewed by SEM. The ligating procedure increases the osmium concentration at its original bonding site sufficiently to render the tissue electrically conductive, thus obviating the need for metallic coating. he organelles at the fractured surface are revaled in relation to their osmium incorporation rather than by surface irregularities as with coating methods. The image derived from the uncoated surface approaches in resolution that of transmission electron micrographs of thin sections. A protion of the image arising from a small distance below the surface, while at progressively lower resolution, provides some 3-dimensional information about cell fine structure.

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