Plants have numerous forms of reproduction depending on the place and the species where they are found. One of these forms of reproduction is through spores. However, this word is used on numerous occasions without fully knowing what its operation and characteristics are. In a world, there are numerous types of spores that are classified in different ways and have vital functions for the survival of some plants.
Therefore, we are going to dedicate this article to tell you everything you need to know about spores, their characteristics, and their importance.
Spores are the reproductive cells that can produce certain species of plants and fungi. The advantage offered by these spores as a form of reproduction is that they can divide successively until they end up forming a new individual. The characteristic for which spores stand out is that they are cells that do not require any other type of individual to be able to target and end up forming a new plant or fungus. This is what we call asexual reproduction.
In order to reproduce and divide, these spores use structures called sporangia. We know that on our planet not all plants reproduce the same or have the same characteristics. This type of reproduction extends to those places that are somewhat more complicated for the plant to survive, since in a way that it does not need pollinating insects that are responsible for transferring pollen from one plant to another.
Where are the spores found?
We are going to analyze some of the best-known plants that reproduce by spores. We must bear in mind that plants that are not vascular are the most primitive. These are the ones that reproduce by means of spores. It is the oldest mechanism found in the plant kingdom to reproduce and expand its area of distribution. Among the plants that reproduce by means of spores, we have the bryophytes group. Here we have the mosses, liverworts and hornworts.
Mosses tend to form dense and thick mantles that cover the surfaces of both the soil and the rocks where they grow and fix their rhizoids. As we know, these plants are more primitive and do not have roots as such, but rather are small structures that function as roots. They are quite important as they help minimize soil erosion. Normally these mosses grow in places with a high degree of humidity and need this same humidity to survive. This makes erosion less and the soil is richer in organic matter.
Liverworts are given this name because they bear a resemblance to the human liver. It is another plant that, together with mosses, tends to occupy large areas and grow in sunless and humid areas. Both plants need a high degree of environmental humidity to be able to grow in good conditions. On the other hand, hornworts are plants that have a very small size that does not reach heights of more than 3 centimeters. Its structures are primitive and simple and there are very few species that can represent it since they are increasingly rare.
There is also another group of plants capable of reproducing through spores. This group is vascular plants and they also use this method of reproduction since they do not have flowers and seeds. The most representative of the pteridophytes are the ferns. They are also known by the name of lower vascular plants since, although they have roots, they are less developed than other higher plants such as angiosperm plants and gymnosperm plants.
How are spores classified according to their shape and location?
Spores can be classified according to their function, structure, origin of the life cycle, or by their mobility:
Let’s analyze what the classification according to their function. When we analyze fungi we see that they have multicellular spores that have a thick wall as a result of asexual reproduction. It is known by the name of chlamydospore. We also have a sexual part that is known by the name of zygospore, which is capable of dividing through meiosis when environmental conditions are conducive to germination.
Spores can be classified according to their origin during the life cycle. A meiotic spore or meiospore is the product of meiosis, which means that it is haploid and will produce haploid cells or individuals. This is a characteristic of the life cycle of plants and algae. Mitospores are produced by the sporulation mechanism and are disseminated asexually due to mitosis. Most fungi produce filamentous spores or motorsports.
Finally, we can classify the spores according to their mobility or motility. Motility is the ability to move autonomously and spontaneously. The spores divide according to how they can move. Zoospores can pass through one or more flagella and can be found in some algae and fungi. Although the auto-spores cannot move, they have no potential to develop any damage. Spores are actively excreted from fruiting bodies (such as fungi).
Algae and bacteria with spores
Algae can reproduce both sexually and asexually. In the case of asexual reproduction, they use spores for this purpose. The simplest algae use spores in a process that bears many similarities to the asexual reproduction stage of plants, using ocean currents instead of air currents to spread their spores throughout the territory. In this way, the algae’s area of distribution can increase and guarantee the colonization of the space.
Finally, some bacteria have the ability to reproduce through spores. In these cases, each cell usually produces a spore, and they use this reproduction as a means of survival in an unfavorable environment, rather than as a habitual method of reproduction. Some bacteria can induce a spore state to protect themselves from heat changes, lack of food or water, or even extreme salt, pH or radiation , etc., for a period of time. Some of these spores are very durable over time and are capable of surviving in extreme conditions.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about spores, their characteristics, and function.