(IGP) GS Paper 1 - General Science - "Plant Reproduction"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre) - 2013

Subject - General Science
Chapter : Plant Reproduction

Flowering plants

Flowering plants, the angiosperms, were the last of the seed plant groups to evolve, appearing over 100 million years ago during the middle of the Age of Dinosaurs (late Jurassic).


Flowers are collections of reproductive and sterile tissue arranged in a tight whorled array having very short internodes. Sterile parts of flowers are the sepals and petals. When these are similar in size and shape, they are termed tepals. Reproductive parts of the flower are the stamen (male, collectively termed the androecium) and carpel (often the carpel is referred to as the pistil, the female parts collectively termed the gynoecium).


  • Pollen grains (from the greek palynos for dust or pollen) contain the male gametophyte (microgametophyte) phase of the plant. Pollen grains are produced by meiosis of microspore mother cells that are located along the inner edge of the anther sacs (microsporangia). The outer part of the pollen is the exine, which is composed of a complex polysaccharide, sporopollenin.

  • Inside the pollen are two (or, at most, three) cells that comprise the male gametophyte. The tube cell (also referred to as the tube nucleus) develops into the pollen tube. The germ cell divides by mitosis to produce two sperm cells. Division of the germ cell can occur before or after pollination.


  • The transfer of pollen from the anther to the female stigma is termed pollination. This is accomplished by a variety of methods. Entomo-phyly is the transfer of pollen by an insect.

  • Anemophyly is the transfer of pollen by wind. Other pollinators include birds, bats, water, and humans. Some flowers (for example garden peas) develop in such a way as to pollinate themselves. Others have mechanisms to ensure pollination with another flower. Flower color is thought to indicate the nature of pollinator: red petals are thought to attract birds, yellow for bees, and white for moths. Wind pollinated flowers have reduced petals, such as oaks and grasses.

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The Ovary

The ovary contains one or more ovules, which in turn contain one female gametophyte, also referred to in angiosperms as the embryo sac. Some plants, such as cherry, have only a single ovary which produces two ovules. Only one ovule will develop into a seed.

The Gametophytes

The male gametophyte develops inside the pollen grain. The female gametophyte develops inside the ovule. In flowering plants, gametophyte phases are reduced to a few cells dependant for their nutrition on the sporophyte phase. This is the reverse of the pattern seen in the nonvascular plant groups liverworts, mosses, and hornworts (the Bryophyta). Angiosperm male gametophytes have two haploid nuclei (the germ nucleus and tube nucleus) contained within the exine of the pollen grain (or microspore). Female gametophytes of flowering plants develop within the ovule (megaspore) contained within an ovary at the base of the pistil of the flower. There are usually eight (haploid) cells in the female gametophyte: a) one egg, two synergids flanking the egg (located at the micropyle end of the embryo sac); b) two polar nuclei in the center of the embryo sac; and three antipodal cells (at the opposite end of the embryo sac from the egg).

Double Fertilization

The process of pollination being accomplished, the pollen tube grows through the stigma and style toward the ovules in the ovary. The germ cell in the pollen grain divides and releases two sperm cells which move down the pollen tube. Once the tip of the tube reaches the micropyle end of the embryo sac, the tube grows through into the embryo sac through one of the synergids which flank the egg. One sperm cell fuses with the egg, producing the zygote which will later develope into the next-generation sporophyte. The second sperm fuses with the two polar bodies located in the center of the sac, producing the nutritive triploid endosperm tissue that will provide energy for the embryo’s growth and development.

Vegetative Propagation

Many plants also have an asexual method of reproduction. Often some species, such as many orchids, are more frequently propagated vegetative than via seeds. Tubers are fleshy underground stems, as in the Irish potato. Leaflets are sections of leaf will develop roots and drop off the plant, effectively cloning the plant. Runners are shoots running along or over the surface of the ground that will sprout a plantlet, which upon settling to the ground develop into a new independent plant.

Facts from NCERT

  • Algae grow and multiply rapidly by fragmentation. An algae break up into two or more fragments. These fragments or pieces grow into new individuals.

  • Fungi on bread pieces grow from spores which are present in the air, spores are asexual reproductive bodies.

  • Spores are covered by a hard protective coat to with stand unfavorable conditions such as high temperature and low humidity.

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