What Is Fixation In Biology?

What Is Fixation In Biology?

May 23, 2023 Off By Juliet D'cruz

Are you curious to know what is fixation in biology? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about fixation in biology in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is fixation in biology?

Fixation is a fundamental process in biology that involves the preservation of biological specimens, such as tissues or cells, in a stable and usable state for further analysis. It prevents decay, maintains structural integrity, and immobilizes cellular components to allow for detailed examination and experimentation. In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of fixation in biology, understand the process, and explore its significance in scientific research and specimen preservation.

What Is Fixation In Biology?

Fixation is the process of preserving biological specimens by halting all biochemical and physiological processes while maintaining the structural integrity of the cells and tissues. It involves treating the specimens with chemical agents or physical methods to immobilize cellular components, preventing decomposition and maintaining their original state.

How Fixation Occurs:

  1. Chemical Fixation: The most common method of fixation involves immersing the specimen in a chemical fixative solution. Common fixatives include formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, paraformaldehyde, and ethanol. These chemicals crosslink proteins and other cellular components, preventing enzymatic degradation and maintaining the structure of the specimen.
  2. Physical Fixation: Physical methods, such as freezing or cryopreservation, can also be used for fixation. Freezing rapidly lowers the temperature of the specimen, preserving it in a stable state. Cryopreservation involves the use of cryoprotectants and controlled cooling rates to freeze and store specimens at extremely low temperatures.

Significance Of Fixation In Biology:

  1. Preserving Morphology: Fixation preserves the morphology and structural integrity of biological specimens, allowing researchers to study their cellular and tissue organization. It enables detailed examination under various microscopic techniques, such as light microscopy, electron microscopy, or immunohistochemistry.
  2. Enabling Histological Studies: Fixation plays a crucial role in histology, the study of tissue structure. It allows for the preparation of thin sections of preserved tissue, which can be stained and observed under a microscope to identify specific cellular components, study tissue architecture, and diagnose diseases.
  3. Facilitating Molecular Analysis: Fixation serves as a crucial step in molecular analysis techniques, including DNA and RNA extraction, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. It helps in preserving nucleic acids and proteins within the specimen, enabling downstream molecular analyses and gene expression studies.
  4. Long-term Storage: Fixation provides a means of long-term storage for biological specimens. Properly fixed and preserved specimens can be stored for extended periods, allowing future analysis and comparison with new samples.

Fixation Methods And Applications:

  1. Formalin Fixation: Formaldehyde-based fixatives, such as formalin, are widely used for routine fixation in histology and pathology. It preserves tissue architecture and cellular components, making it suitable for general morphological studies.
  2. Electron Microscopy Fixation: For electron microscopy, specimens are typically fixed with glutaraldehyde or a combination of glutaraldehyde and paraformaldehyde. These fixatives provide excellent preservation of ultrastructural details.
  3. Cryofixation: Cryofixation methods, including freezing or vitrification, are employed for preserving samples for electron microscopy. Rapid freezing ensures the preservation of cellular structures in their native state without the formation of ice crystals.
  4. Other Fixatives: Depending on the specific research objectives and requirements, researchers may employ other fixatives tailored for particular applications, such as ethanol for preserving DNA or specific fixatives for specialized staining techniques.


Fixation is a crucial process in biology that preserves the structural integrity and biochemical components of biological specimens for further analysis and research. Whether it is studying tissue morphology, conducting molecular analyses, or long-term storage, fixation allows scientists to investigate and understand the intricate workings of living organisms. By halting decay and immobilizing cellular components, fixation provides a foundation for various scientific disciplines and advances our knowledge of the biological world.

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What Does Fixation Do To Cells?

Cell fixation aims to maintain cells or cellular components in a life-like state, preventing unexpected changes by preserving essential chemical and physical characteristics of cells for further observation.

What Is Fixation As Applied To Microbiology?

By definition, fixation is the process of preserving biological tissues by terminating any biochemical reactions thereby preventing autolysis and putrefaction. It also preserves the integrity and morphology of the sample by inhibiting bacterial and fungal growth.

What Is The Fixation Of Tissue Process?

Fixation is the first step in tissue preservation for pathological diagnosis. Fixation arrests autolysis and putrefaction coagulates soluble and structural proteins, fortifies tissues against the deleterious effects of subsequent processing, and facilitates staining.

What Is Fixation In Staining?

DEFINITION OF FIXATION AND STAINING Fixation may be defined as the selective preservation of cell or tissue structures and components for subsequent study. Fixation is selective in the sense that those methods are selected which are most suitable for the particular purpose of the research study.


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