FRANCIS LEROY & MICHAEL PIERARD, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY & MICHAEL PIERARD, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Life cycle of a fern, animation. Ferns reproduce by spores, rather than seeds. Male sperm (grey dots), which mature in an antheridium (brown), swim to an egg (red), which is housed in an archegonium (grey). A sperm fertilises the egg, which divides to become an embryo. A young sporophyte (dipoloid fern plant) develops from the embryo. Mature sporophytes contain sporangia, structures where spores are formed by meiosis. Sporangia release their spores into the environment, where they germinate into gametophytes (haploid plants). The gametophytes produce antheridia and archegonia, which produce sperm and eggs respectively. With the release of the sperm cells, the life cycle begins again.
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