Bryophytes are an informal group consisting of three divisions of non-vascular land plants (embryophytes), the liverworts, hornworts and mosses.[1] They are characteristically limited in size and prefer moist habitats although they can survive in drier environments.[2] The bryophytes consist of about 20,000 plant species.[3][4] Bryophytes produce enclosed reproductive structures (gametangia and sporangia), but they do not produce flowers or seeds. They reproduce via spores. Bryophytes are usually considered to be a paraphyletic group and not a monophyletic group, although some studies have produced contrary results. Regardless of their status, the name is convenient and remains in use as an informal collective term. The term "bryophyte" comes from Greek βρύον, bryon "tree-moss, oyster-green" and φυτόν, phyton "plant".

The defining features of bryophytes are:

Bryophytes exist in a wide variety of habitats. They can be found growing in a range of temperatures (cold arctics and in hot deserts), elevations (sea-level to alpine), and moisture (dry deserts to wet rainforests).[5]

Bryophytes can grow where vascularized plants cannot because they do not depend on roots for an uptake of nutrients from soil. Bryophytes can survive on rocks and bare soil.[5]

Like all land plants (embryophytes), bryophytes have life cycles with alternation of generations. In each cycle, a haploid gametophyte, each of whose cells contains a fixed number of unpaired chromosomes, alternates with a diploid sporophyte, whose cell contain two sets of paired chromosomes. Gametophytes produce haploid sperm and eggs which fuse to form diploid zygotes that grow into sporophytes. Sporophytes produce haploid spores by meiosis, that grow into gametophytes.

Bryophytes are gametophyte dominant, meaning that the more prominent, longer-lived plant is the haploid gametophyte.[6] The diploid sporophytes appear only occasionally and remain attached to and nutritionally dependent on the gametophyte. In bryophytes, the sporophytes are always unbranched and produce a single sporangium (spore producing capsule).

Liverworts, mosses and hornworts spend most of their lives as gametophytes. Gametangia (gamete-producing organs), archegonia and antheridia, are produced on the gametophytes, sometimes at the tips of shoots, in the axils of leaves or hidden under thalli. Some bryophytes, such as the liverwort Marchantia, create elaborate structures to bear the gametangia that are called gametangiophores. Sperm are flagellated and must swim from the antheridia that produce them to archegonia which may be on a different plant. Arthropods can assist in transfer of sperm.[7]

Fertilized eggs become zygotes, which develop into sporophyte embryos inside the archegonia. Mature sporophytes remain attached to the gametophyte. They consist of a stalk called a seta and a single sporangium or capsule. Inside the sporangium, haploid spores are produced by meiosis. These are dispersed, most commonly by wind, and if they land in a suitable environment can develop into a new gametophyte. Thus bryophytes disperse by a combination of swimming sperm and spores, in a manner similar to lycophytes, ferns and other cryptogams.

This page was last edited on 17 April 2018, at 23:58.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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