pollen storage and materials

ConroeJoe@aol.com ConroeJoe@aol.com
Fri, 12 Aug 2005 14:23:14 PDT
In a message dated 8/12/2005 10:37:30 AM Central Daylight Time, 
pbs-request@lists.ibiblio.org writes:

> I work in a laboratory where we use expensive items like Drierite 
> dessicant, Epi tubes for storage and Magenta boxes.


I have to agree that my best results with any storage of pollen or seeds (if 
they will store at all) is when I have used materials that truly dessicant and 
containers which are airtight.

So, drierite works much better for me (over several years) than silica beads. 
 Also, ziplock bags don't compare to tightly closed baby food jars; ziplock 
bags leak humidity over several months.  I mix a bit of the color-change 
indicator type (of drierite) mixed with the less expensive white form.  This way, I 
can use "essentially" airtight containers but always use see-through 
containers and keep tabs on the drierite.   Baby food jars work OK for me, but for long 
term storage (things I'm not sure if I'll get back to in a year or so), I use 
containers that have very good seals (fruit jars sometimes).  

If the drierite starts to turn pink I know that something is wrong, and I 
replace the container and add new drierite.  

Sometimes, I'll even dry seeds or pollen over drierite.  I place air-dried 
materials over several inches of drierite and leave it for 2-3 weeks.  Even if 
the drierite does not change to pink, I still retrieve the biological materials 
and put them over a new layer of drierite in a new container.  Houston and 
humidity, and ways to deal with such, are just ways of life.  

One note about blue drierite:  you can reuse it endlessly, just bake it for 
2-3 hours at 250 in the oven.  But, there is a trick.  You have to bake it in a 
thin layer, about 1 particle thick in order to regain the nice blue color, 
and hence the useful color-change feature.  I am not sure, but I think it has to 
do with oxygenation and heat.  If you bake the particles in a layer of 1/2 or 
so, many of them turn lavender--not blue.  In a container it is sometimes 
difficult to tell lavender from pink, and so the color-change wetness indicator 
is less effective.  But blue drierite costs more, so I mix it about 10% with 
regular white.  

I think silica gel beads would work very well if the goal is to store pollen 
for 1-2 years.  I've just never tried because drierite is a better dessicant 
and I have just always used it.  


Conroe Joe

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