• Reproduction enables a species to live generation after generation. Reproduction in organisms can be broadly classified into asexual and sexual reproduction.
  • Asexual reproduction does not involve the formation or fusion of gametes.
  • It is common in organisms that have a relatively simple organisation such as the fungi, algae and some invertebrate animals.
  • The offspring formed by asexual reproduction are identical and are referred to as clones.
  • Zoospores, conidia, etc., are the most common asexual structures formed in several algae and fungi. Budding and gemmule formation are the common asexual methods seen in animals.
  • Prokaryotes and unicellular organisms reproduce asexually by cell division or binary fission of the parent cell.
  • In several aquatic and terrestrial species of angiosperms, structures such as runners, rhizomes, suckers, tubers, offsets, etc., are capable of giving rise to new offspring. This method of asexual reproduction is generally referred to as vegetative propagation.
  • Sexual reproduction involves the formation and fusion of gametes. It is a complex and slower process as compared to asexual reproduction.
  • Most of the higher animals reproduce almost entirely by sexual method. Events of sexual reproduction may be categorised into pre-fertilisation, fertilisation and post-fertilisation events.
  • Pre-fertilisation events include gametogenesis and gamete transfer while post-fertilisation events include the formation of zygote and embryogenesis. Organisms may be bisexual or unisexual.
  • Sexuality in plants is varied, particularly in angiosperms, due to the production of diverse types of flowers. Plants are defined as monoecious and dioecious.
  • Flowers may be bisexual or unisexual flowers.
  • Gametes are haploid in nature and usually a direct product of meiotic division except in haploid organisms where gametes are formed by mitosis.
  • Transfer of male gametes is an essential event in sexual reproduction. It is relatively easy in bisexual organisms.
  • In unisexual animals it occurs by copulation or simultaneous release.
  • In angiosperms, a special process called pollination ensures transfer of pollen grains which carry the pollen grains to the stigma.
  • Syngamy (fertilisation) occurs between the male and female gametes.
  • Syngamy may occur either externally, outside the body of organisms or internally, inside the body. Syngamy leads to formation of a specialised cell called zygote.
  • The process of development of embryo from the zygote is called embryogenesis.
  • In animals, the zygote starts developing soon after its formation. Animals may be either oviparous or viviparous.
  • Embryonal protection and care are better in viviparous organisms. In flowering plants, after fertilisation, ovary develops into fruit and ovules mature into seeds.
  • Inside the mature seed is the progenitor of the next generation, the embryo.

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