Archegonium & Antheridium: Definition & Function

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

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

Archegonium

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

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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support