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Ceratopteris is a genus of homosporous ferns that is mainly found in tropical and subtropical
areas (Trigiano 2000). In some environments it is found that Ceratopteris sporophytes can
become aggressive, clogging up drainage system. For land plants meiosis results in the
production of haploid spores. This spore would then germinate and develop given it is under
appropriate conditions, into multicellular plants that produce sex cells. Like all homosporous
ferns, C-Fern has two independent, autotrophic phases: a developmentally simple haploid
gametophyte and a vascular diploid sporophyte (Trigiano 2000). The gametophytes bear both
male and female gametes and also serve as the site for fertilization. For this lab, we will be
observing the life cycle of C-Fern over a period of four weeks. The objective is to focus on the
sexual phase of a fern, which will include observations of development from spore germination
to sexual maturation.

Materials needed to conduct the experiment

Sterelized wild type C-Fern

Petri dishes
5ml volumetric pipette
40ml distilled water
Pasteur pipette
Small probe or forceps
Spore spreader
Alcohol (70%)
Culture Dome

It takes about 4 weeks to complete the fern life cycle experiment. Every week observations are
made and any changes to the growth of the fern are noted. During the first week, C-Fern spores
are laid out across the agar surface of the petri dish. In the second week, changes and growth to
the spores are noted. In the third week, changes are noted again. In addition, water will be added
to the culture and observation of how the water effect the culture is noted. During the fourth and
final week, changes are noted.

During the first week, C-Fern spores were added to an agar surface in a petri dish. The structure
of the spores was observed through dissecting microscope. Its observed that the spores are
round in structure and is very small. In addition the spore has lines on its cell wall. However the
spore wall ornamentation is not uniform, that is the lines on its walls are sometimes not parallel
to each other and sometime its hard to make out ornamentation on its wall. A spore is a single
cell and the spores are made small because they must sometimes travel a great distance in order
to spread its seeds and will need to be small in order to do so. When dry, the spore will rests and
the spore will cease to grow until conditions are favorable. However, when conditions are
favorable the spore will grow. There are a couple of factors responsible for the germinating of the
spores; suitable temperature, moisture, sufficient light, suitable nutrients, and protection from the
During the second week, the growth of the spore was observed. It is found that some of the
spores have germinated, which means that the plant has bursts forth from inside. However, not
all of the spores have germinated, this could be that some of the spores are not receiving as much
nutrients as the other spores or that favorable condition for the spore that have not germinated
has not been met. By observing the spore wall, it is found that the cell well has been breached by
the growing plant. The plant is green in color which means that it reflects green light which is
why it appears green to the human eye. In addition, rhizoid which is a clear elongated cell that
sticks out from the base was identified. Its function is to anchor the plant to a substrate and
absorb water and minerals. Algae, fungi or bacteria may grow in the petri dish and it is
important to try to eliminate these contaminants completely because they may interfere in the
growth of the spores.
During the third week, the gametophytes have changed dramatically. There are two distinct type
of gametophytes that were observed; the larger mitten shaped gametophytes which have both
male and female organs that is which is known to be hermaphroditic gametophytes and the
smaller shaped gametophytes which only has male organs. Antheridium which is a male sex
organ is located on the edge of the plant near the rhizoid at the lower part of the plant.
Archegonia, the female sex organs are found behind the growing notch meristem. Archegonium
is only found here because the sperm will try to locate the receptive archegonia and will swim
toward and then down the small necks of archegonia to fertile the eggs. Males have many
antheridia, however the male gametophytes does not have a meristem like its female counterpart.
Male gametophytes grow and develop many antheridia, release its sperm and die. However, male
gametophytes can regenerate as hermaphrodites if isolated from cultures. When water was added
to the culture, antheridia release its sperm. Some of the sperm cells find their way to the
archegonia and swim their way down the neck of the archegonium in an attempt to fertilize the
egg. The sperm find their way to the archgonium by utilizing its flagella and swimming and due
to an attractive chemical diffusing from the archegonium. Once the spermatozoid finds its way
to the egg, it will then fertilize the egg.

During the fourth week, the region just behind the notch meristem was observed. By adding in
water to the cultre from the third week, there exists a bump at the base of archegonia. From this,
it will undergo mitosis and form a new sporophyte.
1. Trigiano, Robert. Plant tissue Culture Concepts and Laboratory Exercises. Massachusetts.
Library of Congress, 2000. Print