Bryophyte Life Cycle

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  • 0:04 What Are Bryophytes?
  • 0:37 The Bryophyte Life Cycle
  • 2:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Bryophytes are a type of green plant that includes the mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. Read this lesson to learn about the surprisingly complex life cycle these plants have. You didn't realize bryophytes were so cool!

What Are Bryophytes?

Before we can talk about the bryophyte life cycle, we should know what a bryophyte is. A bryophyte is a type of green, seedless plant that includes the mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. Bryophytes do not have flowers and are classified as non-vascular plants, which means they do not have vascular tissue. As such, bryophytes are considered a simple plant, in that they don't have high tissue organization, but they are still found all over the world. They also have a unique reproductive cycle, so let's take a closer look.

The Bryophyte Life Cycle

Bryophyte generations alternate between a sporophytic generation, which means they use spores to reproduce, and a gametophytic generation, which means they use sperm and eggs to reproduce.

Let's look at the sporophytic generation first but, remember, this is a cycle and the two types are linked. Bryophytes produce spores through sexual reproduction. Individual plants may be either male or female, depending on the species, or an individual plant may have both male and female parts. An individual spore is haploid, meaning it only has one set of chromosomes. When a spore lands on the ground and germinates, it will produce a small leafy mat called a protonema.

The protonema develops into a gametophyte, bringing us to the second generation. Gametophytes are multicellular, haploid individuals. Each spore can create a gametophyte, and the structure of the gametophyte depends on the species. For example, some species have gametophytes with two sections or branches. One section will be male and the other will be female. Other species have gametophytes that only have one section and it is either male or female.

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