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Ferns, fertilization

mystic mystic at lcc.net
Mon Feb 23 00:54:42 EST 1998

Richard Blucher wrote:
> Following up on a previous question/answer about ferns, I would
> appreciate if someone could give me some help with two additional
> question on the same subject:
> 1) Since the male and the female gametes of the fern develop on the
> underside of the gametophyte, is it a necessary condition for the
> successful travel of the male gamete that there is water to fill the
> void between it and the ground, or at least that the water is high
> enough at the female gamete to allow it to make contact?

Generally, the cohesive nature of water makes it unnecessary for there
to be a 'sea' of water beneath the gametophyte.  It doesn't have a stem,
per se, anyway, so there's not much room between it and the ground.  The
sperm swim through the water adhering via surface tension to the
> 2) If the male gamete is in fact 'dumped' into the 'sea' beneath it, is
> its approach to the female gamete a random swim or is it attracted
> specifically to the female gamete?

I sometimes wonder if the male gametes aren't following a chemo-trail --
but haven't seen any research on that subject.  Might make a pretty
experiment.  Gametophytes are easy to grow on agar, under basic plant
lights.  Keep 'em misted, but not too much.  It's really cool if you
collect your spores from the wild.  Got mine from native epiphytic ferns
in the East Tx. hardwood forest, and I got, besides gametophytes, lots
of interesting algae, fungi, and tardigrades (water bears, invertebrate
'algae grazers' that develop from dormant, spore-like structures.

Hope this helps
V. Appleman
> Thanks
>           Richard Blucher

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