A lot of living things can surprise you when viewed through a microscope. Such a magnified view can give you a whole new sense of perspective.
Grass grows and just like any other living thing, it comprises of tiny cells that will become visible with the right microscope and level of magnification.
These cells do not all look the same across different varieties as some perform the same functions differently than others.
In this guide, we will look at how marram grass leaf, desert-climate xerophytic grass, as well as oat and wheat grass should appear under a microscope. You may even see some cells that seem to resemble smiley faces.
Marram Grass Leaf
A cross-section of marram grass leaf should have a dark edge that surrounds the root.
The shade of color may change depending on how mature the blade of grass is as it can uncurl during growth and each fold can face away from the center.
Those folds help the blade of grass keep water and take care of themselves against salt to prevent any evaporation that may be deemed excessive.
If you were to view the transverse section of the leaf, you would see further adaptation which is an effort to prevent any significant water loss.
The thick outer cuticle curls around the hinge cells to effectively offer protection to the inner epidermis.
The folds also contain light-filtering veins which are shaped like tubes to move around water and nutrients throughout the leaf.
Will You See Smiley Faces?
You should not believe everything that you see, especially on the internet.
However, there is an image of a blade of marram grass leaf, known as Ammophila Arenaria, taken from a microscope while the leaf is viewed from above that seems to include a bunch of enthusiastic smiley faces.
Those parts of the cell that appear to be smiling faces are in fact vascular bundles known as monocots, which are how a blade of grass would transport water to the top.
The image would be classed as a micrograph as it is not a single grass cell, but rather an image of a section of grass that houses several cells.
The smiley faces are also made more visible by artificial staining which makes the faces show up more prominently.
What you cannot see at such close magnification is how the grass is actually designed to make animals unhappy, such as how the spines on the surface actively discourage any creature from eating the leaf.
You may be able to see these smiley faces throughout other leaves and plants as they are considered a common structure that performs the same job.
While the faces may differ from smiley to scary, creepy, and maybe even funny, you should still be able to find vascular bundles.
As a blade of grass is so small, you need to use the correct magnification to see the vascular bundles yet they are clearer on a piece of celery as you can see the paths where the water is transported without needing a microscope.
Oat And Wheat Grass
Looking at oat grass under a microscope should be enlightening. Certainly, at 64x magnification where you can expect to see a fair amount of chloroplast.
Such a level of magnification is also to ensure that the grass remains flat so you can see it properly. Oat grass can quickly dry out too which is why you should try to keep it flat.
The wheat grass should remind you of those cells that look like smiley faces as they do a similar job for this grass variety.
These will be bundle sheaths that are made from the xylem and phloem of the grass leaf.
Both the xylem and phloem perform the same function as the ‘smiley faces’ to act as tunnels to transport nutrients and water throughout the grass.
Desert-Climate Xerophytic Grass
While xerophytic grass should look different from grass that tends to get more water, there are still some similarities. That includes the transportation of water, even if it is limited.
The transverse section should contain some adaptations and a comparatively thinner structure. The structure could even be deemed as resembling that of a needle, it is that thin.
There should also be visible differences between either side of the grass as they develop and utilize different structures.
At the bottom (also known as the abaxial), you can expect to see some sclerotic tissue. Closer to the top, the adaxial surface will contain the soft and visibly green tissues.
You can expect these two sides to operate together to provide a function to keep the grass leaf surviving and they do.
Grasses such as the xerophytic variety typically roll so that the soft side stays inwards to look after the leaf during particularly dry periods.
This remains concave-shaped and closed so that any moisture is protected and is prevented from evaporating away.
The other, outer abaxial side is convex-shaped to more or less act as further protection and shield.
These convex and concave shapes are designed to protect the grass leaf and this is shown when it rains.
A blade of xerophytic grass typically becomes a bimetallic strip as the adaxial remains concave-shaped to absorb as much water as possible and even expands with the hinge cells.
This helps the inner face of the leaf to become open to taking in as much rainwater as it can and become the water absorption tissue.
This is during periods of rainfall yet when that turns to drought, the leaf reverts back to its original appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does It Appear That Grass Has Hair Growing On It?
Those growths that look like hair are actually tiny roots that dig in and protrude into the soil.
These will be found on the part of the grass roots that remain underground and they help to transport water and nutrients by absorption.
The grass actively grows from the tip of the root which is known as the meristem and it is this part that helps transport the vital nutrients throughout the grass, from the leaves to the shoots.
What Is Grass Actually Made Up Of?
The components that go into creating a blade of grass are remarkably straightforward.
These typical elements include phosphorus, water, lignin, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon. However, grass will take on the additional elements of cellulose and chlorophyll during photosynthesis.
As a living thing, various cells should be visible from a blade of grass when viewed under a microscope.
These may resemble smiley faces, as they seem to with a cross-section of a marram grass leaf known as Ammophila Arenaria.
These cells do perform certain functions which you can expect in every variety of grass when viewed up close which is to transport nutrients and water.
Certain grass varieties will have different appearances which is perhaps due to the conditions that they face.
That is certainly the case for xerophytic, or desert climate, grass which is formed to use either a concave or convex surface to absorb water and then protect it from being exposed and evaporating.
Other features that may be visible are the tiny hair-like roots and a certain amount of chloroplast but this may depend on the magnification of the microscope.
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