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Article: Embryophyte



  • Embryophytes are a clade of plants, also known as Embryophyta or land plants.
  • They emerged from freshwater charophyte green algae.
  • Embryophytes consist of bryophytes and polysporangiophytes.
  • They include hornworts, liverworts, mosses, lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms.
  • Embryophytes have diplobiontic life cycles.
  • They are primarily adapted for life on land.
  • They have specialized reproductive organs.
  • They obtain biological energy through photosynthesis.
  • They release oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis.
  • They have alternation of generations in their life cycle.
  • They have multicellular gametophytes that produce sperm and eggs.
  • Fertilization takes place within the archegonium.
  • The zygote develops into a protected embryo.
  • In most embryophytes, the sporophyte generation is dominant.
  • Embryophytes evolved from streptophyte algae.
  • Streptophytes invaded land during the Ordovician period.
  • Freshwater adaptation pre-adapted embryophytes to tolerate land conditions.
  • Molecular evidence supports the relationships among embryophyte groups.
  • Present-day embryophytes form a clade.
  • Mosses, hornworts, and liverworts are non-vascular land plants.
  • They have a haploid-dominant life cycle.
  • Sporophytes are unbranched structures in these plants.
  • They rely on water for dispersal of gametes.
  • Non-vascular land plants dominate in humid or seasonally moist environments.

Rise of Vascular Plants

  • Plants evolved vascular tissue during the Silurian and Devonian periods.
  • Vascular tissue contains cells with lignin-strengthened walls called tracheids.
  • Some early plants had water-conducting tissue similar to mosses but a more developed sporophyte.
  • Other plants, like Rhynia, had a similar life cycle but simpler tracheids.
  • The gametophyte and sporophyte stages in vascular plants are equally independent.
  • Lycophytes, such as clubmosses and spikemosses, make up less than 1% of living vascular plants.
  • Lycophytes have small leaves called microphylls or lycophylls.
  • Microphylls evolved from outgrowths on stems and later acquired veins.
  • Tree-like lycophytes dominated the landscape during the Carboniferous period.
  • Euphyllophytes, comprising over 99% of vascular plant species, have large true leaves called megaphylls.
  • Ferns and horsetails form a clade and disperse through spores.
  • Whisk ferns and horsetails have reduced leaves compared to true ferns.
  • Ferns are a diverse group with approximately 12,000 species.
  • Stereotypical ferns have broad, divided leaves that unroll.
  • Early fossil horsetails had broad leaves with branching veins.

Seed Plants

  • Seed plants appeared towards the end of the Paleozoic era.
  • They reproduce using desiccation-resistant capsules called seeds.
  • Seed plants have two types of spore-forming organs: megasporangia and microsporangia.
  • Megasporangia produce a single large spore that develops into a tiny gametophyte.
  • Microsporangia produce microspores that develop into pollen grains.
  • Seed plants include gymnosperms and angiosperms.
  • Gymnosperms have exposed ovules or seeds, while angiosperms have enclosed ovules within carpels.
  • Angiosperms typically have additional structures like petals, forming flowers.
  • Gymnosperms and angiosperms are the two clades of seed plants with living members.
  • Seed plants underwent complex changes to evolve from spore-dispersing ancestors.

Evolution of Land Plants

  • Land plants evolved from a single type of algae.
  • The earliest land plants were likely small and lacked roots and leaves.
  • The evolution of land plants involved the development of specialized structures such as roots, leaves, and vascular tissues.
  • Land plants played a crucial role in shaping terrestrial ecosystems and providing habitats for other organisms.
  • The evolution of land plants was a key event in the colonization of land by organisms.
  • Land plants have a complex life cycle that alternates between a haploid gametophyte phase and a diploid sporophyte phase.
  • The gametophyte phase produces haploid gametes through mitosis.
  • Fertilization occurs when a sperm from the male gametophyte fuses with an egg in the female gametophyte.
  • The fertilized egg develops into a diploid sporophyte, which produces spores through meiosis.
  • The spores are dispersed and germinate into new gametophytes, completing the life cycle.
  • Land plants exhibit a wide range of morphological features, including different types of leaves, stems, and roots.
  • The major groups of land plants include bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, and hornworts) and vascular plants (ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms).
  • Bryophytes lack true roots, stems, and leaves, while vascular plants have specialized vascular tissues for transport.
  • The evolution of leaves allowed land plants to increase their photosynthetic surface area and improve their ability to capture sunlight.
  • The diversity of land plants is vast, with over 300,000 known species, making them one of the most successful and widespread groups of organisms on Earth.

Adaptations to Terrestrial Life

  • Land plants have evolved various adaptations to survive and thrive in terrestrial environments.
  • The development of a cuticle, a waxy layer on the surface of leaves and stems, helps reduce water loss.
  • The

Embryophyte Data Sources

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