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Bryophytes - Lesson Summary

Bryophytes are called ‘the amphibians of the plant kingdom’ because they grow in soil, but need a moist habitat for sexual reproduction. The plant body, a haploid gametophyte is thallus-like and is attached to the substratum by rhizoids. . The plant body has both male and female gametophytes, which bear the male and female sex organs, respectively.

The male sex organs called the antheridia produce biflagellate antherozoids. The female sex organs called the archegonia produce a single egg. During fertilisation, the antherozoids from the antheridium swim in water to reach the egg inside the archegonium to form a zygote. The zygote, in turn produces a multicellular diploid sporophyte, which derives its nutrition from the gametophyte. Some cells of the sporophyte undergo meiosis to produce haploid spores, which germinate to produce a haploid gametophyte. 
Bryophytes are of two types - liverworts and mosses. Liverworts reproduce both asexually and sexually. They reproduce asexually through fragmentation of the thallus or through gemmae. Gemmae are green, multicellular, asexual buds that separate from the parent and develop into new individuals. They develop in small receptacles called gemma cups, located on the thallus. In sexual reproduction, the male and female sex organs are produced either on the same or on different thalli.
Funaria, Polytrichum and Sphagnum are common species of moss. In moss, the gametophyte stage is the dominant stage. The gametophyte stage has two sub-stages – the protonema and the leafy stage. In the protonema stage, the spore develops into a thread-like, creeping, green, branched and filamentous chain of cells. The second stage is the leafy stage, where the primary protonema develops into the secondary protonema as a lateral bud. The buds consist of upright and slender axes that bear spirally arranged leaves attached to the soil through branched rhizoids. The sexual organs develop during the leafy stage. Mosses reproduce vegetatively through fragmentation or through budding in the secondary protonema. In sexual reproduction, the male and female sex organs are produced at the apex of the leafy shoots. 


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