New microtome for wood samples

There is a brand new sliding microtome at the Department of Forest Sciences. Microtomes are used for making thin wood sample slices (typically 20-40 microns thick) that can be then analysed under the microscope. The equipment has been tested with stem core samples of birch, and it seems to work nicely. New users and ideas for research are welcome!

The department of Forest Sciences has a new sledge microtome in room 428, which Gärtner et al. (2015; see for more detail) developed to process all kinds of wood samples for microscopy. The microtome consists of an aluminum frame, a knife holder on an aluminum platform, which is moved along linear guides for cutting, and a sample holder. The knife holder has a removable blade holder for disposable blades.  Both the knife holder and the sample holder are adjustable in nearly any direction. The microtome includes sample holders for micro cores of 2 mm diameter and tree cores of 5 and 10 mm diameter. It should even be possible to process small and fragile samples, such as seedlings, after embedding them for example in paraffin or carrots, but such samples were not yet tested with this microtome.

Magdalena Held will use the microtome to produce thin sections (about 25 to 40 micrometers) for conduit analysis using light microscopy, and little blocks of 2 millimeters thickness for pit analysis using scanning electron microscopy. Her samples are tree cores, stems and roots (thickness: few millimeters to few centimeters), from which she wants to learn more about the scaling of conduit and pit dimensions with distance from treetop.

Everyone is invited to use the microtome and you can ask Magdalena for an introduction.


Gärtner H, Lucchinetti S, Schweingruber F H (2015) A new sledge microtome to combine wood anatomy and tree-ring ecology. IAWA Journal 36: 452-459.