Field of Science

The Moss Life Cycle 2

The last we heard form our moss life cycle we had arrived at fertilization. This process produces a diploid sporophyte that has two sets of chromosomes per cell. The sporophyte starts out as a small embryo (12 o'clock photo) that grows (2 o'clock photo) and grows (4 o'clock photo). The sporophyte consists of a stalk that elevates the capsule, also called a sporangium, "high" into the air. (Height is relative. The stalk is only a few centimeters tall, but it is much taller than the green leafy gametophyte.)

Inside the capsule, spores (6 o'clock) are produced. They are formed by the cell division process of meiosis. This process takes diploid sporophyte cells and produces haploid spores. Basically it takes the number of chromosomes in a parent cell and decreases them by half in the child cells. These spores leave the capsule flying on the wind and are the part of the moss life cycle that is the main dispersal unit.

They land on a suitable place to grow and... (stay tuned for the continuing adventures of the moss life cycle.)

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