Alternative Strategies for Clonal Plant Reproduction
Robert L. Geneve
Pick up any biology textbook and there will be a description of the typical sexual life cycle for plants. In higher plants, the life cycle starts with seed germination followed by vegetative growth leading to flower and gamete formation with the ultimate goal of creating genetically diverse offspring through seed production. The fern life cycle is more primitive but follows a similar progression from spore germination to the gametophytic generation leading to sexual union of gametes resulting in the leafy sporophyte, which in turn creates the spores.
Interestingly, plants have evolved unique alternative life cycles that bypass typical seed production in favor of clonal reproduction systems. This may seem counterintuitive because sexual reproduction should lead to greater genetic diversity in offspring compared to clonal plants. These sexual offspring should have a higher
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