Speculative Biology Sunday: Gametoflight

16 May

The gametoflight is a curious little part of the aeroplankton. They are the highly modified gametophytes, of a currently undetermined species of fern.
After the spores are released from the fern they are carried into the skies by the winds, through which the float until they come across a rain event, or significant enough humidity to trigger the spore will “hatch” and grow rapidly to a size of approximately a millimetre or two across and forms a waxy cuticle.
Then most of the plant dies back, except for a small area inside the tip. Leaving a small plant protected inside a large structure that is more easily blown around by the wind. The only part of the plant projecting from this protective sheath are the root like rhizoids.
For the most part now the tiny plant sits in stasis, unless conditions are right. In which case it does what any other plant does, it photosynthesizes. Not having to grow though, all of its resources go towards reproducing.
Each individual produces both sperm and eggs. Sperm at the antheridium, and eggs at the archegonium. However they are never self fertilised. Any sperm that is produced, travel down one way channels to the rhizoids which are then blown out into the world by the winds which they live on. Any sperm from the outside world that lands on the rhizoids find the other channels which go up into the case to the archegonium. When an archegonium is fertilized, it hardens into a protective case around the fertilized egg and is ejected from the plant. Sometimes though, they get trapped inside the case and cannot grow into the sporophyte fern until the whole gametoflight finally falls back to earth.



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