What are Bryophytes , Characteristics , and Its Importance
In this article, we will discuss one of the important topics of Class 11 Biology, i.e., Bryophytes. Let’s Dive in to know – What are Bryophytes, Why Bryophytes are called Amphibians of Plant Kingdom, Characteristics of Bryophytes, Life Cycle and Importance of Bryophytes.
What are Bryophytes?
Bryophytes- (In Greek, “Bryon” means moss and “phyton” means plant). Bryophytes are the seedless plants that do not have specialized water-conducting tissues. They are not complex plants. Bryophytes are found in humid and shaded places. They grow on surfaces of rocks, soil, tree trunks, bones, rotting wood, etc. They are widely distributed throughout the world.
Bryophytes generally grow up to a height of some millimeter while some bryophytes can also grow up to meter too. They contain chlorophyll and can synthesize food through the process of photosynthesis.
Why Bryophytes are called Amphibians of Plant Kingdom?
Bryophytes are also referred to as Amphibians of the Plant Kingdom because these plants though live in soil but are dependent on water for sexual reproduction.
There are about 18,000 species of bryophytes. Bryophytes are categorized into the following three phyla:
i. Marchantiophyta (liverworts)
ii. Bryophyta (mosses) and
iii. Anthocerotophyta (hornworts).
Moss Liverwort Hornwort
What are the characteristics of Bryophytes?
i. Bryophytes consist of various mosses and liverworts that are found commonly growing in moist shaded areas in the hills.
ii. They generally occur in damp, humid and shaded areas.
iii. They play an important role in plant succession on bare rocks or soil.
Plant succession is the process of gradual replacement of one plant community by another more stable plant community. It occurs over a period of time. The first plant community which develops in a bare region is known as the pioneer community and the last entering community is called the climax community. The plant communities that develop during the succession are called the seral communities. Like:
Bare area or Substratum – Lichens – Bryophytes – Pteridophytes – Angiosperms (Climax Community)
i. The body of bryophytes is thallus-like which is either flat or erect. The thallus is attached to the substratum by unicellular or multicellular rhizoids (root hairs on the underside of the thallus). They lack true roots, stem or leaves. Rhizoids help in absorbing water and nutrients from the soil through the process of capillary action.
ii. The main plant body i.e. thallus of the bryophyte is haploid (having a single set of chromosomes). It is called a gametophyte as it produces gametes.
iii. The sex organs in bryophytes are multicellular. The male sex organ is called antheridium that produces two antherozoids. The female sex organ called archegonium is flask-shaped and produces a single egg.
iv. The antherozoids are released into the water where they come in contact with archegonium. An antherozoid fuses with the egg to produce the zygote. The zygote remains in the archegonium for some time. After some time, it undergoes many mitotic cell divisions and produces an embryonic sporophyte. The growing embryo is covered by a protective structure, called the calyptra.
v. The sporophyte is not free-living but attached to the gametophyte and derives nourishment from it (gametophyte performs photosynthesis). Some cells of the sporophyte undergo meiosis to produce haploid spores. These spores germinate to produce gametophyte.
Explain the Life Cycle and Economic Importance of Bryophytes.
Life Cycle of Bryophytes:
The life cycle of bryophytes has two distinct phases – the gametophytic phase and the sporophytic phase.
The gametophytic phase is haploid and also long lived. It is green in colour and independent. The diploid sporophytic phase is short lived and dependent upon the gametophyte. Hence, the two phases are morphologically distinct.
Life Cycle of Bryophytes
Economic Importance of Bryophytes:
- Some mosses provide food for herbivorous mammals, birds, and other animals. Sphagnum moss is used as a peat (fertilizer).
- Species of Sphagnum, a moss, provide peat that is used as fuel. This moss has a high capacity to hold water, so they are used as packing material for the transporting of living material.
- Mosses along with lichens are the first organisms to inhabit the rocks and hence, are of great ecological importance. They decompose rocks and thus make this substrate suitable for the growth of higher plants. Thus, they help in plant succession as discussed above.
- Mosses form dense mats on the soil, thereby reducing the impact of falling rain and help in preventing soil erosion.
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Important Tags : Characteristics of Bryophytes / Amphibians of the Plant Kingdom / Economic Importance of Bryophytes / Life Cycle of Bryophytes