Concept

Plant reproductive morphology

Summary
Plant reproductive morphology is the study of the physical form and structure (the morphology) of those parts of plants directly or indirectly concerned with sexual reproduction. Among all living organisms, flowers, which are the reproductive structures of angiosperms, are the most varied physically and show a correspondingly great diversity in methods of reproduction. Plants that are not flowering plants (green algae, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, ferns and gymnosperms such as conifers) also have complex interplays between morphological adaptation and environmental factors in their sexual reproduction. The breeding system, or how the sperm from one plant fertilizes the ovum of another, depends on the reproductive morphology, and is the single most important determinant of the genetic structure of nonclonal plant populations. Christian Konrad Sprengel (1793) studied the reproduction of flowering plants and for the first time it was understood that the pollination process involved both biotic and abiotic interactions. Charles Darwin's theories of natural selection utilized this work to build his theory of evolution, which includes analysis of the coevolution of flowers and their insect pollinators. Plants have complex lifecycles involving alternation of generations. One generation, the sporophyte, gives rise to the next generation, the gametophyte asexually via spores. Spores may be identical isospores or come in different sizes (microspores and megaspores), but strictly speaking, spores and sporophytes are neither male nor female because they do not produce gametes. The alternate generation, the gametophyte, produces gametes, eggs and/or sperm. A gametophyte can be monoicous (bisexual), producing both eggs and sperm, or dioicous (unisexual), either female (producing eggs) or male (producing sperm). In the bryophytes (liverworts, mosses, and hornworts), the sexual gametophyte is the dominant generation. In ferns and seed plants (including cycads, conifers, flowering plants, etc.
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