• field emission scanning electron microscopy;
  • conifer somatic embryos;
  • highly vacuolated suspensor cells;
  • immunofluorescence;
  • microtubules;
  • clathrin coated membranes

Highly vacuolated suspensor cells of spruce somatic embryos were examined by immunofluorescence light microscopy using butyl-methyl-methacrylate (BMM) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) embedded sections, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). The use of PEG embedded embryos provided a rapid method for light microscope detection of antigens before committing to FESEM analysis. BMM embedded specimens provided well preserved suspensor cells for immunofluorescence. FESEM permitted high resolution observation of large areas of the inner surface of the plasma membrane and associated cell organelles. Suspensor cells contained mostly transversely oriented cortical microtubules linked to the plasma membrane and adjacent microtubules by cross- bridges. Light and electron microscopy revealed numerous clathrin coated structures on the plasma membrane. These included flat patches of clathrin, coated pits and coated vesicles. Many coated vesicles were associated with microtubules. Both tubular and lamellar endoplasmic reticulum were observed on the plasma membrane by FESEM.