Archegonium & Antheridium: Definition & Function

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

Plants that reproduce through sexual reproduction have sexual organs. We are going to discuss the antheridium and archegonium by looking at their structures and functions during reproduction.

Sexual Reproduction

Every species of living organism reproduces one way or another. Some living organisms reproduce asexually, which is when an organism makes a copy of itself without exchanging genes. Other living organisms use sexual reproduction, which is the creation of an offspring by the mixing of male and female gametes. Some living organisms utilize both methods.

Plants are known for being able to reproduce sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction requires male and female plants. The plants must have reproductive organs to get the reproduction mission accomplished. Let's discuss the reproductive organs found in non-flowering plants, such as ferns, mosses, and bryophytes.


The female sex organ in non-flowering plants is the archegonium. The plant will usually have more than one archegonium, so we refer to them collectively as archegonia. You can identify the archegonia on a plant because it is shaped a lot like a flask. Let's make sure we know the type of flask we are talking about here. Archegonia are shaped like the flask you use in a laboratory and not the one from which you drink a beverage.

Archegonia are anchored to the gametophyte, from which they developed from by a foot. A gametophyte is the haploid gamete producing form of a plant. Above the foot, is a larger, wider area that looks like the bulb part of a flask. This is called the venter. The venter is the location where the female gamete or egg will be produced and developed. Leading up from the venter is the neck of the archegonium. The archegonium has to mature before the neck is ready to do its function. The neck starts out being full of cells, making it a solid structure. Once the archegonium matures, the cells in the inner portion of the neck will breakdown and form a passageway to the egg.

The archegonium also serves as the site of fertilization. After the egg is fertilized, the egg will remain in the archegonium until it develops into a sporophyte. A sporophyte is the spore producing form of the plant. The archegonium releases the sporophyte once it has fully developed.

Notice the archegonium and antheridium growing from the gametophyte
Diagram showing the archegonium and antheridium


The male sex organ in non-flowering plants is called an antheridium. The antheridium looks a lot like a short, thick, globular or cylindrical sac. The antheridium sac looks thick because it consists of several layers of sterile cells that act as a jacket surrounding the inner spermatogeneous tissue. Spermatogeneous tissue is tissue that contains numerous sperm-producing cells. The antheridium is also anchored down to the gametophyte just like the archegonium. The structure that anchors the antheridium is the stalk.

The antheridium has the function of producing and releasing mature sperm cells. Every cell in the spermatogeneous tissue produces one sperm. The sperm will remain inside of the cell that produced it until it fully matures. The spermatogeneous tissue is condensed, which puts pressure on the sperm containing cells. Once the sperm are mature, then this means that the antheridium is mature.

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