...................... PLANTAE KINGDOM (Metaphyta). I. Mosses and Ferns

Introduction. Plants are the most abundant group of organisms of the planet, that produce organic material from the inorganic material and, therefore, allow the existence of animals and fungi, which are organisms that need organic matter to feed themselves. Among the plants we can distinguish two groups:

• inferior plants without flowers or plants that are mosses and ferns, and

plants with flowers, which are:

the gymnosperms, such as pine trees, which have very little showy flowers, and

the angiosperms, such as almond trees, which are those with very showy flowers.

In this chapter we study the mosses and ferns. They were the first organisms that achevied to live out of water. Before them, about 400 million years ago, there was only life in the water. The ferns, as they already have vessels, internal conductors, they may have meters high and constitute large forests. The subtraction of which originated in the current coal deposits, and provided the leaves, which were eaten by large herbivorous dinosaurs. In the jungles of Central and South American ferns can still be seen over 15 meters high. It is very interesting to know what they are and how they reproduce , since they are organisms that have survived for so long, approximately 200 times more than we hominids.

Activities to do. Read the explanations on the General Characteristics and Classification of Plants, and do the Multiple Choice Test 13.1 and Relate drawings and names 13.1. Then read the text on the ferns and do the multiple choice Test 13.2, the Relate drawings and names 13.2, and the Crossword 13.

1. The Kingdom of plants or Kingdom of the metaphyses
. This kingdom includes plants, which are eukaryotic, pluricellular, tissue organisms (that is with specialized cells that form tissues) and with photosynthetic autotrophic nutrition. Plants differ from algae in having an epidermal tissue impermeable and transparent, which has allowed to live out of water without the risk of desiccation.
The Kingdom Plant, which is also known by the name of Vegetable Kingdom includes mosses, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms. These four groups differ depending on whether or not having conducting tissues, flowers (organs that produce pollen), seeds and fruits.

  • Conductive tissue. Is a tissue formed by special cells which form conduits (vessels) through which circulating liquid (sap). In the leaves these vessels are easily recognized because they are called blade nerves. The presence of conducting tissue allows to differ three parts in plants that which are root, stem and leaves. These three parts are discussed in the next chapter.
  • Flower. Reproductive organ of higher plants. In it pollen grains are formed.
  • Pollen. Desiccation resistant structure containing male reproductive cells and, therefore, allow the dispersion of these cells among flowers through the air. Thus, pollen allows reproduction without water.
  • Seed. Desiccation-resistant structure that contains the embryo of the future plant and, therefore, that allow survival until there is enough moisture in the soil to germinate and grow.
  • Fruit. Structure that protects the seed. Some are fleshy and facilitate food application that is ingested by animals and these, by their droppings, disperse the seeds.

Based on these concepts, classification of plants is as follows:

PLANTS (Metaphyta)

Nonvascular plants, ie without conducting tissue

Vascular plants, ie conducting tissue

Mosses (Bryophytes)
Plants without flowers, which do not produce any pollen or seeds
Flowering plants, which produce pollen and seeds
With the seeds not within fruits
With the seeds within fruits

2 . Mosses. They are photosynthetic organisms with a waterproof epidermal tissue and some conducting cells, but without actually forming a genuine conducting tissue.

Thanks to possessing a waterproof skin that prevents desiccation, they were the first photosynthetic organisms that colonized the continents. Because of lack of a conducting tissue, water has to move from cell to cell. This inefficient mechanism causes that they do not exceed more than a few centimeters high. They have structures similar to roots, stems and leaves but which actually are false roots, false stems and false leaves that have no internal conducting vessels.

They appeared from an evolution of some specie of algae, which lived in the rolling waves. Most of them live in very humid areas such as forest soils. Others are aquatic. Some species are able to live in very dry areas, stay dry endure several years and move to the active life when it rains again. This allowed them to live in inhospitable envirinment as on rocks, walls, roofs, etc..

They present asexual reproduction through fragmentation and sexual reproduction with alternation of generations. This consists in the fact that the moss has two forms, one with filament form with many false green leaves and which is very abundant, and another smooth filament shaped brown that is not abundant. Green forms generate male gametes and female gametes and hence are called gametophytes. If there is water, male gametes swim to female gametes to fertilize and thus generate a zygotic cell which begins to multiply and generates a brown form. This, as an adult, produces sexual spores (spores with half the genetic information) and, therefore, this form is called the sporophyte. Subsequently, these spores land in the ground, germinate and each gives rise to a green form. Green form cells have half of chromosomes (condensed DNA molecules) that brown form cells and, therefore, it is said that in sexual reproduction of mosses, thay alternate two forms, one of which has double chromosomes as the other.

Multiple Choice Test
Connect drawings with names

3. The ferns
. They are photosynthetic organisms with a waterproof and epidermal tissue and also conductive tissue, that, such as mosses, need water to reproduce, since the male gametes must swim to the female gametes. This is because, as is in mosses, they do not bloom and therefore cannot produce pollen (structures closing male gametes and that allow their transport through the air).

Thanks to a conductive tissue they can distribute water effectively throughout the plant absorbing itfrom the ground. Because of this, they can reach heights of 1 to 2 meters in temperate steady countries and up to 16 meters in tropical forests. As they have conductive tissue they give real roots, real leaves and real stems. Same as mosses, appeared from evolution of one green algae species.

As mosses, they present asexual reproduction from rhizome which does not stop to grow, and sexual reproduction alternation of generations. Unlike mosses, the greatest and most abundant form is produced by the sexual spores, that is the sporophyte (which in our country have a size from 25cm to 2 m in height) and form small and little abundant is which form gametes, ie gametophytes (having a size of about 5 or 6 millimeters).

The sporophyte has a very large leaves called fronds, which come out of a horizontal underground stem called rhizome, from which arise numerous roots. The fronds are usually very divided and when young are wound on themselves in the form of cane. On the back there are a yellowish spots, sores, within which are the sporangia which are the organs where sexual spores are formed. They are called that because they are spores that have only half of genetic information (half the chromosomes) in their stem cells. From each one of them, a gametophyte may be formed, that is a very small film called protalo. On its lower side, which is in contact with water, bumps appear with male gametes within and larger other protrusions with one single female gamete inside. If there is enough water in the ground, male gametes go swimming and fertilize the female and this is when generate a zygote cell that begins to multiply and generates a form that will end up giving a new sporophyte.

Multiple Choice Test
Connect drawings with names
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