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Growth and Development of the Male Gametophyte of Ginkgo biloba within the Ovule (in Vivo)

William E. Friedman
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 74, No. 12 (Dec., 1987), pp. 1797-1815
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2443963
Page Count: 19
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Growth and Development of the Male Gametophyte of Ginkgo biloba within the Ovule (in Vivo)
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Abstract

The mature male gametophyte of Ginkgo biloba can be divided into two regions: a large saccate structure that is suspended within the fertilization chamber above the archegonia, and a pervasive, highly branched haustorial system that ramifies through the intercellular air spaces of the apex of the nucellus. This morphology appears to differ in many ways from the simpler more typical male gametophytes of most other groups of seed plants. Growth and development of the male gametophyte of Ginkgo biloba were studied using computer reconstruction techniques to generate images of the gametophyte from data derived from serial sections through the ovule. These investigations reveal that morphological development of the male gametophyte of Ginkgo biloba is divided into three distinct phases: 1) Germination, characterized by an initial brief period of diffuse growth. This phenomenon has not been described for any other seed plant male gametophyte; 2) Initiation of tip growth and the formation of a tubular body, as typifies all seed plant male gametophytes. In Ginkgo, this is accompanied by a high degree of branching, giving rise to an extensively branched haustorial system; 3) Late swelling of the proximal unbranched portion of the gametophyte resulting in formation of the saccate structure that is characteristic of the mature gametophyte. This process appears to be very similar to late development in cycad male gametophytes. Thus, despite the seemingly anomalous morphology of the mature male gametophyte of Ginkgo biloba, specific patterns of growth and development are in many ways similar to growth processes expressed by the male gametophytes of some or all major groups of seed plants.

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