The unique advantages of the cellulose deposition in the cell walls of cotton make it an important and versatile material in the production textiles and other products. The study of cotton fibers reveal that they possess unique advantages over other plant tissues. The hairs of cotton are single cell outgrowths of epidermal cells. The growth history of cotton fibers is one of elongation and cell wall thickening. Those who study cotton can determine the quality of the crop yield with the use of a microscope.
This slide specimen of the stained cross-section of a cotton stem appear blue because of the Methelyne Blue stain used to highlight the individual fruit cells structure against the background. Specimen staining is just one technique to help students researching microscopic specimens to determine what they are (their morphology).
The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and new Worlds. The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated from 5000 BC. Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that so lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today.