Q:

How does moss reproduce?

A:

Moss reproduces both sexually and asexually. For sexual reproduction, plants produce a male and female structure, often on different plants, and the sperm swims toward the eggs to accomplish fertilization. In the case of asexual reproduction, any time part of the stem or even just a leaf breaks off, the bits regenerate to create a new moss plant.

In the case of sexual reproduction, the male plant often features a rosette that is visible at the tip of the shoot, at which point a mass of antheridia, or male structures, sit inside a clump of hairs or leaves. Frequently, a microscope is necessary to see these structures. At the point of ripeness, the antheridia release antherozoids, which are the sperm cells that feature a chemical attraction to the archegonium, or the female structure. That is the place where fertilization produces a zygote, which later turns into a sporophyte. Through cell division, the sporophyte starts to grow out of the archegonium, turning into a parasite, although in some cases, it uses photosynthesis to create some of its own sustenance. The sporophyte anchors itself in place and creates a capsule that can contain as many as a million spores. When the spores mature, the capsule opens, releasing them into the wild for dispersal, and those that fall onto an area with some moisture start germinating into mature plants.


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