Life cycle of mosses and ferns

Life cycle of mosses and ferns

This animation compares the life cycles of mosses and ferns, helping to understand the general life cycle of plants.

Biology

Keywords

moss, fern, life cycle, mosses, male fern, root-like structure, stem-like structure, leaf-like structure, spore, sporangium, seta, mature moss plant, rhizome, leaf, moss cushion, haploid, gametophyte generation, gamete, fertilisation, meiosis, heart-shaped prothallium, male reproductive organ, female reproductive organ, diploid, thalloid plants, zygote, plant tissues, chemotaxis, plant, biology

Related items

Questions

  • Sexually reproduced generation of mosses
  • Spore-producing generation of mosses
  • Gamete-producing generation of mosses
  • Spore-producing generation of male fern
  • Haploid generation of wood fern
  • Gamete-producing generation of male fern
  • Diploid generation of male fern
  • Haploid generation of mosses
  • Diploid generation of mosses
  • Sporophyte generation of male fern
  • Sporophyte generation of mosses
  • Gametophyte generation of male fern
  • Gametophyte generation of mosses
  • The generation of mosses that develops from a spore
  • Asexually reproduced generation of male fern
  • Sexually reproduced generation of male fern
  • Asexually reproduced generation of mosses
  • The generation of mosses that develops from a zygote
  • The generation of male fern that develops from a spore
  • The generation of male fern that develops from a zygote
  • It does not photosynthesise
  • It lacks organs
  • It lacks tissues
  • It has organs
  • It has tissues
  • The fertilisation of which plants does not depend on the presence of water?

Scenes

Moss

Male fern

Life cycle

Quiz

Animation

  • spore (haploid)
  • gametophyte generation (haploid)
  • gamete (haploid)
  • fertilisation
  • zygote (diploid)
  • sporophyte generation (diploid)
  • meiosis (reductive division)

Narration

Life cycles of mosses and ferns

The life cycle of most plants is referred to as alternation of generations, it is characterised by alternating diploid and haploid stages. The diploid generation reproduces through spores (hence the name sporophyte). The spores develop into the haploid generation, which produces gametes (hence the name gametophyte). Fertilisation produces a zygote which develops into a new diploid generation, and the life cycle starts again.

The zygote receives one set of chromosomes from both gametes. That is, the two haploid gametes fuse into a single diploid zygote, which is the starting cell for the sporophyte generation; therefore, this generation is diploid. The diploid sporophyte organism produces haploid spores through meiosis (or reductive cell division). The spore develops into the haploid gametophyte generation.

First, let's follow the main phases in the life cycle of mosses.

The sporophyte generation develops on the mature moss plant; it consists of a seta and a sporangium. In the sporangium haploid spores are produced though meiosis. Later, the sporangium opens, spores fall on the soil and develop into moss plants. The moss plant consists of haploid cells; this is the gametophyte generation. It absorbs water and minerals through its entire surface. Mosses are thallophytes; they do not have differentiated tissues or real organs. They have root-like, stem-like and leaf-like structures. Gametes are produced by so-called 'reproductive organs' (which are not real organs either), situated at the top of the plant. In the presence of water, sperm cells fertilise the eggs and thus diploid zygotes are produced. The zygote is the first cell of the new sporophyte generation; it develops into a seta and a sporangium. Thus the life cycle starts again. The gametophyte generation of mosses is more developed; therefore, it is the dominant generation; the sporophyte generation is limited to a short phase. In the life cycle of vascular plants, however, the sporophyte generation is dominant.

The fern plant is the diploid sporophyte generation. Its main organs are the rhizome, which consists of the subterranean stem and the roots, and the leaves. On the back of the leaves there are several clusters of sporangia, called sori. Sporangia produce haploid spores through meiosis (or reductive cell division). These spores fall onto the soil when the sporangia open. The spores of wood ferns develop into a characteristic heart-shaped prothallus. The bottom side of the prothallus contains thread-like structures and reproductive organs. In the presence of water, sperm cells swim to the female reproductive organs, where they fertilise the eggs and thus zygotes are formed. Zygotes then develop into fern plants. In the life cycle of ferns, as with angiosperms and gymnosperms, the sporophyte generation is dominant.
In the evolution of plants, the reduction of the gametophyte generation is an important tendency. While ferns have a relatively developed prothallus, the gametophytes of the most developed plants consist of a few short-lived cells within the pollen and the ovule.

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