Plant reproduction

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Plant reproduction is the production of new individuals or offspring in plants, which can be accomplished by sexual or asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction produces offspring by the fusion of gametes, resulting in offspring genetically different from the parent or parents. Asexual reproduction produces new individuals without the fusion of gametes, genetically identical to the parent plants and each other, except when mutations occur. In seed plants, the offspring can be packaged in a protective seed, which is used as an agent of dispersal.

Asexual reproduction may happen through budding, fragmentation, fission, spore formation and vegetative propagation. Plants have two main types of asexual reproduction in which new plants are produced that are genetically identical clones of the parent individual. Vegetative reproduction involves a vegetative piece of the original plant (budding, tillering, etc.) and is distinguished from apomixis, which is a replacement for sexual reproduction, and in some cases involves seeds. Apomixis occurs in many plant species and also in some non-plant organisms. For apomixis and similar processes in non-plant organisms, see parthenogenesis.

Natural vegetative reproduction is mostly a process found in herbaceous and woody perennial plants, and typically involves structural modifications of the stem or roots and in a few species leaves. Most plant species that employ vegetative reproduction do so as a means to perennialize the plants, allowing them to survive from one season to the next and often facilitating their expansion in size. A plant that persists in a location through vegetative reproduction of individuals constitutes a clonal colony; a single ramet, or apparent individual, of a clonal colony is genetically identical to all others in the same colony. The distance that a plant can move during vegetative reproduction is limited, though some plants can produce ramets from branching rhizomes or stolons that cover a wide area, often in only a few growing seasons. In a sense, this process is not one of reproduction but one of survival and expansion of biomass of the individual. When an individual organism increases in size via cell multiplication and remains intact, the process is called vegetative growth. However, in vegetative reproduction, the new plants that result are new individuals in almost every respect except genetic. A major disadvantage to vegetative reproduction, is the transmission of pathogens from parent to offspring; it is uncommon for pathogens to be transmitted from the plant to its seeds (in sexual reproduction or in apomixis), though there are occasions when it occurs.

Seeds generated by apomixis are a means of asexual reproduction, involving the formation and dispersal of seeds that do not originate from the fertilization of the embryos. Hawkweed (Hieracium), dandelion (Taraxacum), some Citrus (Citrus) and Kentucky blue grass (Poa pratensis) all use this form of asexual reproduction. Pseudogamy occurs in some plants that have apomictic seeds, where pollination is often needed to initiate embryo growth, though the pollen contributes no genetic material to the developing offspring. Other forms of apomixis occur in plants also, including the generation of a plantlet in replacement of a seed or the generation of bulbils instead of flowers, where new cloned individuals are produced. Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction where the offspring comes from one parent only, thus, inheriting the characteristics of the parent.

A rhizome is a modified underground stem serving as an organ of vegetative reproduction; the growing tips of the rhizome can separate as new plants, e.g., polypody, iris, couch grass and nettles.

Prostrate aerial stems, called runners or stolons, are important vegetative reproduction organs in some species, such as the strawberry, numerous grasses, and some ferns.

This page was last edited on 13 April 2018, at 15:56.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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