What Are Cork Cells? Preparation, Objectives & Procedure

An English scientist and scholar named Robert Hooke made a description of cork with the help of the very first microscope more than 300 years ago.

This was the first time a microscope was ever put into use as he observed the little box-like structures and named them cells.

What Are Cork Cells Preparation, Objectives & Procedure

His findings were published in a scientific journal.

While he was doing this, he used the microscope to look at the little structures that resembled boxes as well as the cells for the very first time.

This was the very first time anyone had ever made use of a microscope.

The cork comes from the outer bark of the cork oak tree, which is primarily composed of dead tissues.

The cork oak tree is a kind of oak.

This discovery paved the way for the development of cell theory at the beginning of the 19th century when it was starting to become generally acknowledged that all living things are composed of cells. 

In addition, it was discovered that cells may be found in a range of sizes and forms and that they can also conduct several functions.

This finding is an essential component of the cell theory.

Even though no two cells in the body are the same, they all have a startling similarity in appearance because they share some fundamental characteristics in common. 

The use of a microscope resulted in the finding that the majority of plant cells and animal cells share certain components, such as the nucleolus, the nucleus, the mitochondria, the cell membrane, and the cytoplasm.

All of these components may be discovered inside the cell.

While he paved the way for cell theory, Robert Hooke was incorrect in his notion that cells may only be found in plant tissues.

Cells can also be found in animal tissues. 

Just as you are about to witness for yourselves through the following activity, Hooke only observed the cell walls after the cells had dried up. 

A fundamental understanding of the nature of a cell is required for anybody who wishes to be successful in the field of microscopy as well as the study of living forms, which is more often referred to as biology.

Introduction To Cork Cells

Cork, often referred to as cork cambium (plural: cambia), is a kind of tissue present in all vascular plants and is regarded as a component of the plant’s epidermis.

Cork may be found in the bark of trees (outermost layer). 

It is a form of lateral meristematic tissue that is responsible for the secondary growth that takes place in plants as a result of the process of the replacement of the epidermis in the plant’s stems and roots.

This secondary growth may be thought of as an extension of the primary growth.

There is a cambium present in herbaceous and woody dicots, as well as in some gymnosperms, that is responsible for the production of cork.

The cork cambium is one of the meristematic tissues that may be found in a plant, as is shown by a more cursory investigation. 

Meristematic tissues are a series of tissues that consist of certain cells that have only partially differentiated.

These cells are responsible for the growth of the plant. One of these tissues is the cambium, which may be seen on cork trees.

The objective of this organism is to produce cork, which is a material that is both durable and protective.

There are a few distinct ways in which the development and growth of the cambium tissue in cork are affected by the individual plant species that are being considered.

As may be seen from the many surfaces of the bark, which can be tessellated, smooth, scaly, fissured, or flaking off, it also relies on the age of the plant as well as the conditions in which it is growing.

It is possible to observe every one of these qualities.

Objectives Of The Activity

When you have finished participating in this activity, you will be able to accomplish the following:

1. Examine the structure of the cork cells more intently as they continue to deteriorate.

2. Put the knowledge you’ve obtained here to use in order to get a fundamental grasp of how a microscope operates.

You Will Need

For this activity, you will need the following items/materials:

  • Microscope Slide
  • Coverslip
  • Cork
  • Razor blade – single edge and very sharp
  • Compound microscope

Preparation

During this activity, you will get the opportunity to perform observations of cork cells by using a compound light microscope.

You will have the opportunity to observe each individual cell in a great deal of detail if you use the cork bits of dust that are situated in the bottom of the cork container.

To create a wet mount, just dip a finger into the container that contains the cork dust or cork dust, pick up a few bits of cork with your finger, and then lay the cork pieces on the slide. 

You also have the option of cutting the cork into pieces that are sufficiently thin for you to be able to make out the individual cells within the cork.

When the slice of cork is made thicker than is strictly necessary, it makes it more difficult to discern the arrangement of the individual cells in the cork.

To prevent the cork from scratching your workspace, place it on a piece of paper or a paper towel beforehand.

Remove a very little piece of the cork by carefully slicing it with a razor blade while securely gripping the cork in one hand and using the other to guide the blade.

Take special care to create an extremely smooth surface, and try to make the portion that was cut as thin as you can.

Remember though, razor blades tend to be quite sharp!

Make sure that while you are slicing, you cut away from your fingers rather than toward them to avoid cutting your fingers.

After slicing a piece of cork that is translucent and thin enough to let light pass through it, the cork should be treated as a slide mount for a wet microscope.

This preparation involves sanding the surface of the cork until it is smooth.

This can be done by first placing a drop of water on a microscope slide, then placing a slice of cork on the slide, and finally adding another drop of water on the cork slice before covering the entire thing with the coverslip for the slide.

This process can be repeated as many times as necessary until the desired result is achieved.

If you make use of the wet mount, you will have a better chance of keeping the cork from sliding off the slide.

The area around the edge of the slice that is the thinnest will yield the most fruitful results while searching for anything.

When you are initially viewing your slide, make sure that the power is turned down to a low setting.

What you are going to witness is almost identical to what the scientist Robert Hooke witnessed almost 350 years ago using his simple, low-powered microscope.

Boost the magnification on your microscope, and once you’ve done so, look at the specimen in more detail to pick out the nuances that were before obscured from view.

What Are Cork Cells Preparation, Objectives & Procedure (1)

Procedure

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do this activity correctly:

  1. Using the rotating turret of the microscope, place the objective lens with the lowest magnification power in a location where it may be clicked into the 10x magnification setting.
  2. Once the slide for the microscope has been painstakingly prepared, lay it in the right position, and then use the clips to keep it in place.
  3. While seeing the specimen via the eyepiece of the microscope, gradually adjust the focus knob so that the image may be brought into clear focus.
  4. Make some very minor modifications to the condenser of the microscope as well as the amount of illumination to get the highest possible light intensity.
  5. Rotate the microscope slide so that the sample is centered in the field of view of the microscope. 
  6. Observe the sample under the microscope. It is also beneficial to have bright light coming from the top of the sample at a rather shallow angle.
  7. Make sure the picture is in clear focus by using the focus knob to do so, and then make any required changes to the condenser and the amount of light so that the picture is visible. After raising the magnification to x10, make some notations on what you see in the image.
  8. After the photograph of the cork sample has been brought into clear focus using the x10 power objective, you may then switch to the higher or lower power objective to zoom in or out of the image to increase the image’s clarity. At this point, you are at liberty to position the target on any one of several different planes to conduct a more precise analysis of the cork sample layouts.
  9. When you have through examining the specimen, lower the stage, adjust the lens power on the objective to its lowest position, and then remove the slide from the microscope.

Observation

A cork cell that is mature and has died and has cell walls made of a waxy substance known as suberin.

This material has an exceptionally high level of resistance to the movement of water and gases through it. 

Now, the cork cells in the cork may include residues of fatty acids, lignin, or tannins, or the cork cells may simply be filled with air, and the thickness of the cork may vary from one cell to the next.

This is because the thickness of the cork is determined by the type of woody plant that was used to produce the cork.

It is possible to notice, via the use of a microscope with a low power magnification of x10, that the cells are packed together tightly and are generally grouped in rows in a radial pattern.

This may be seen when the cells are seen in a radial pattern.

Even at this very modest magnification level, it is feasible to discern a significant amount of information on the configuration of the cork cells.

When the magnification is increased to a higher level—for instance, to x40—the space between the cells may be seen more clearly.

It is believed that structures inside the cork cambium known as lenticels are responsible for inducing this separation to occur. 

These lenticels, which are visible at greater magnifications and are also referred to as pore-like structures, make it possible for gases to travel freely between the stem of the plant and the environment around it.

Conclusion

When examining the smallest possible piece of cork with the microscope while using the higher power objective, make sure not to look at the center of the cork sample but rather at the edge where you can see some light passing through the sample.

If you look at the center of the sample, you won’t be able to see any light passing through the sample at all. 

This will enable you to examine the sample at the maximum magnification that is currently available to you.

At this time, the only component of the cork cell that can be observed is the cell wall.

This is because the cork cell has already dried out.

One single cork cell constitutes each of these components that may be scrutinized in further detail.

Jennifer Dawkins

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