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9.3: Plant Life Cycle Overview

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How do plants reproduce?

Is it really due to the birds and the bees? Not always. Even though it is spotted, this plant is known as the kangaroo fern, not the cheetah fern. And all those spots are spores. So what's a spore? Each spore can grow into a new individual without the need for fertilization.

Life Cycle of Plants

All plants have a characteristic life cycle that includes alternation of generations . Plants alternate between haploid and diploid generations. Alternation of generations allows for both asexual and sexual reproduction. Beginning with the diploid sporophyte , spores form from meiosis. Asexual reproduction with spores produces haploid individuals called gametophytes , which produce haploid gametes by mitosis. Sexual reproduction with gametes and fertilization produces the diploid sporophyte. A typical plant’s life cycle is diagrammed in Figure below .

This diagram shows the general life cycle of a plant.

Early plants reproduced mainly with spores and spent most of their life cycle as haploid gametophytes. Spores require little energy and matter to produce, and they grow into new individuals without the need for fertilization. In contrast, most modern plants reproduce with gametes using pollen and seeds, and they spend most of their life cycle as diploid sporophytes. Many modern plants can also reproduce asexually using roots, stems, or leaves. This is called vegetative reproduction . One way this can occur is shown in Figure below .

Strawberry plants have horizontal stems called stolons that run over the ground surface. If they take root, they form new plants.

Summary

  • All plants have a characteristic life cycle that includes alternation of generations.
  • Asexual reproduction with spores produces a haploid gametophyte generation.
  • Sexual reproduction with gametes and fertilization produces a diploid sporophyte generation.

Practice

Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is meant by "alternation of generations"?
  2. Is the sporophyte haploid or diploid?
  3. Are spores haploid or diploid?
  4. What is the form of most visible plants, sporophyte or gametophyte?

Review

1. Draw a diagram of a typical plant life cycle that illustrates the concept of alternation of generations.

Vocabulary

life cycle

life cycle

Series of stages a sexually reproducing organism goes through from one generation to the next.
sporophyte

sporophyte

Diploid generation in the life cycle of a plant; results from sexual reproduction with gametes; produces spores for asexual reproduction.
vegetative reproduction

vegetative reproduction

Asexual reproduction in plants using non reproductive tissues, such as leaves, stems, or roots.
alternation of generations

alternation of generations

Back and forth change from one generation to the next between haploid gametophyte and diploid sporophyte stages in the life cycle of plants.
spore

spore

A reproductive cell produced by various organisms; can withstand harsh environmental conditions.

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At Grade

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Date Created:

Feb 24, 2012

Last Modified:

Sep 15, 2014
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