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Some Microhistological Techniques Utilized in the Determination of the Botanical Composition of Herbivore Diets

Giorgio Castellaro G.1*, Fernando Squella N.2, Tamara Ullrich R.3, Felipe León C.4 y Alberto Raggi S.5

This work describes different microhistological techniques, to study wild and domestic herbivore diets. The methods to obtain epidermal tissue were applied to the main vegetal species of the Mediterranean and high plain pastures, to evaluate the degree of resolution in their identification and characterization. In most grasses and grass-like species, the epidermal tissue was obtained easily by scraping without complications, identifying species based on specific characteristics of the cellular wall, cell size and shape, presence and shape of cork and silica cells, and presence and shape of trichomes. In some poaceas with very hard epidermis, prior treatment with ether and nitric acid was necessary before scraping. In wood and wide leaf herbaceous species, the diafanization method was the most efficient way to obtain the epidermis, and species identification was based on cell and trichome shape, and in some cases, on stomas shape, but, in some genera, species differentiation was not possible. The microhistological technique proved to be a useful tool to obtain epidermis of plant species, being an accurate method to identify and characterize this structure. Some wide leaf herbaceous species showed a strong sensitivity to diafanization, so this technique should be developed.

Key words: genus identification, species identification, highland ranges, Mediterranean annual ranges, microhistological technique, epidermis tissue.

1 Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Agronómicas, Casilla 1004, Santiago, Chile. E-mail: gicastel@uchile.cl *Corresponding author.
2 Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Centro Regional de Investigación Rayentué, Centro Experimental Hidango, Casilla 3, Litueche, Chile. E-mail: fsquella@inia.cl
3 Actividad Privada. Pedro Lagos 258, Río Tranquilo, Aysén, Chile.
4 Bayer S.A., Longitudinal Sur km 92, Los Lirios, Rancagua, Chile.
5 Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Casilla 2 - Co

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