All plants and the majority of algae experience a generation shift throughout their existence. This means that they have haploid and diploid phases. Put simply, the result of sexual reproduction is a gamete that has a combination of cells from two different sources. This is where haploids and diploids differ from each other. Haploids contain a set of chromosomes in every one of their cells, while diploids contain two chromosome sets.
When it comes to plants, the cells divide through the process called mitosis. This is where we finally come to the sporophytes and gametophytes. In plants, the haploid phase is called the gametophyte, and the diploid phase is called the sporophyte. The offspring of plants constantly alternate between these two, meaning that plants are able to create two different plant types that have the same genetic material. Let’s see how to differentiate them!
Characteristics Of Sporophytes And Gametophytes
We define sporophytes as diploid plants that use the process of meiosis to create spores. These spores are special kinds of cells. They grow into haploid gametophytes. There are two types of spores, microspores and megaspores. Megaspores grow into female gametophytes, and microspores grow into male gametophytes. In these plants, meiosis creates haploid spores that each have one cell that can become an entirely new plant without mating. Sporophytes are generally larger and more dominant than gametophytes. They also live longer.
On the other hand, gametophytes are haploid plants, and they make haploid gametes through the process of mitosis. The gametes can either be female or male. Female gametes take the form of an egg, and the male gametes take the form of sperm. When the sperm and egg of gametophytes unite, a diploid zygote cell is formed. This cell eventually grows into a new sporophyte. Gametophytes are usually much smaller than sporophytes, at times microscopic in size.
Through the alternation of generations, plants can constantly switch between sporophyte and gametophyte offspring. Which one will be more dominant often depends on the plant species. There are some key differences between the two, though, and we will talk about them here. The first notable difference is in the number of sets of chromosomes, also known as the ploidy. Gametophytes are haploid, meaning they have one set of chromosomes, while sporophytes are diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes.
Their importance in the process of alternation of generations is also one major factor in which they differ. They are constantly switching, giving birth to one another, thereby alternating between haploid and diploid phases. Gametophytes reproduce sexually, while sporophytes do it asexually.
The process of meiosis is quite significant for the well being of offspring. It halves the number of sets of chromosomes, but there is also one more aspect to it that is much more important. It has a special mechanism that it uses to repair itself and restore all of the damaged parts of DNA to its normal state. This prevents all abnormalities from getting carried over to the offspring.
About the Author
Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.