3-7 The Simple Stain

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In a simple stain, the smear is stained with a solution of a single dye which stains all cells the same color. Differentiation of cell types or structures is not the objective of the simple stain. However, certain structures which are not stained by this method may be easily seen, for example, endospores and lipid inclusions.

Simple stains are, well simple. One makes a smear and the applies a single stain to the slide. Below is a procedure for a simple stain.

  1. Prepare and heat-fix a smear of the organism to be studied.

  2. Cover the smear with the staining solution. If crystal violet or safranin is used, allow one minute for staining. The use of methylene blue requires 3-5 minutes to achieve good staining.

  3. Carefully wash off the dye with tap water and blot the slide dry with blotting paper, an absorbent paper pad or a paper towel.

Three steps, now wasn't that easy? Figure 3-5 contains a movie demonstrating the simple stain. Figure 3-10 shows a light micrograph of what a simple stain should look like.

Figure 3-10 The Simple Stain

A photomicrograph of a simple stain at 1000X magnification. Note that all cells, regardless of species or cell wall construction, stain the same color.

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