Fragmentation & Regeneration Reproduction in Plants & Animals

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  • 0:00 Reproduction
  • 0:54 Fragmentation
  • 1:48 Regeneration
  • 2:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Expert Contributor
Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

All plants and animals reproduce in different ways. In this lesson, we discuss a type of reproduction called fragmentation and the process of regeneration that occurs with it.

Reproduction

Plants and animals come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They're found all over the world in varying environments. They eat different things, and grow in different ways. Some are stationary, some crawl along at a snail's pace, and some fly through the sky at incredible speeds.

But, what they all have in common is a need to pass on their genetic material to the next generation. They do this through either sexual or asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction involves fertilization, like with humans. Asexual reproduction is reproduction without sex. You may have also heard of this referred to as cloning, because the offspring is an exact copy of the parent that created it.

Are you surprised to learn that there are multiple methods of asexual reproduction? In this lesson, we're going to cover a specific one called fragmentation.

Fragmentation

In reproduction, fragmentation is just what it sounds like: a fragment of a plant or animal that breaks off of an individual. What's amazing is that not only does this fragment carry an exact copy of the parent's genetic material, but with some plants and animals, it will grow into a completely new individual!

We can find lots of examples of this in nature. Fungi such as yeasts and mushrooms reproduce through fragmentation. Plants such as ferns also reproduce this way, as do many algae. And, if you wanted to grow a new potato, you could plant parts of the tuber and you'd have yourself a potato clone!

Animals that reproduce through fragmentation are also common. Sea stars are probably the most famous example. An entirely new individual can grow from a broken-off sea star arm. Annelid worms (think earthworms) can also create a new individual from fragmentation, as can corals in the sea.

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Additional Activities

Fragmentation Example

In this lab experiment, students will be demonstrating fragmentation by rooting plant cuttings to create new plants. To complete this activity, you'll need one plant that can reproduce through rooting, such as herbs, spider plants, jade, or other succulents. You'll also need a cup of water, a sharp knife or scissors, and a small cup of soil to replant the cutting.

Student Instructions

Now that you understand the process of fragmentation, we're going to actually make it happen! In this activity you will be creating cuttings from a plant and rooting them in the process of fragmentation. Then, you will plant the cuttings and create a new plant! Follow the steps below and then answer the questions.

  1. Start with a plant that reproduces easily with fragmentation, such as herb plants, spider plants or jade plants. Cut off a three to six inch long cutting from the plant, at a 45-degree angle near a leaf node.
  2. Next, place your cutting in a small container of water and place it in sunlight.
  3. Switch your water every few days to keep it clean and watch your roots grow!
  4. Once your cutting has roots, you can put it in a small cup of soil to create a new plant.

Questions

  1. What did you notice during the rooting process? Explain how you were able to see fragmentation.
  2. What do you think the advantage is of using fragmentation as a reproductive strategy?

Expected Results

Students should see roots developing in a few days from their cutting. They should notice new growth from the cut end, and roots developing downward into the water. Fragmentation is advantageous because it allows plants to grow back damaged parts and reproduce without other members of their species. However, some plants do not root as well as others and may require a rooting hormone. This hormone can be applied as a gel or in powder form. Woody plants tend to not root as well as herbaceous plants.

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