the mating of spores

mystic mystic at
Mon Feb 16 04:59:13 EST 1998

Bob Weber wrote:
> Can someone give me a "simple" answer to how male and female spores of
> ferns, etc. find each other and mate?  Can I get an e-mail answer?
Spores do not come in male and female. Spores are the product of the
sporophyte phase of fern plants (this plant has two 'lives', so to
speak).  The mature fern is a sporophyte.  It produces diploid spores,
which then develop into a small, (less than 1 cm) low-to-the-ground
heart-shaped blob of green called a gametophyte, or 'thallus'.  The
thallus produces both ova and sperm.  The sperm, located in special
pockets on the edge of the thallus, 'swim' (actually, they spin -- fern
sperm is shaped very much like a small corkscrew) through the
micro-moist environment on the surface of the thallus to the ova, which
are encased in a special sac near the heart of the thallus.  The sperm
and ova are haploid -- when they fuse, they form a diploid sporophyte
which eventually develops into that leafy thing that costs too much in
the nursery. The mature fern will develop spore cases on the underside
of its leaves.  The spores, when they are released, simply blow here and
there or fall to the ground, where they develop into a thallus
(gametophyte), and the whole game starts up again.

More information about the Plantbio mailing list