What is sporulation?
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What Does Sporulation Mean
We explain what sporulation is, how this asexual reproduction mechanism works, examples and other forms of reproduction.
What is sporulation?
Sporulation is the asexual reproduction mechanism through spores and endospores . This type of reproduction is usual in fungi , plants and various genera of bacteria and microorganisms . It can be part of their natural reproductive cycle, or an alternative to face adverse environmental situations, such as lack of nutrients or sunlight .
Although they are similar to animal gametes, the spores are characterized by being resistant structures : they consist of a single cell wrapped in a thick layer of organic material , which defends it from hostile environmental conditions, waiting for a more favorable situation to generate a complete individual.
They are known to be tremendously resistant to radiation, desiccation, heat, and even the passage of time . They are divided into:
- Endospores Which are formed within the body , generally unicellular.
- Exospores That are formed outside the body, through a process called budding .
It can help you: Reproduction of fungi
Examples of sporulation
Next, we will see as an example sporulation in plants, fungi and bacteria:
- Bacterial sporulation. It consists of the replication of bacterial DNA , wrapping it in a small portion of the cytoplasm , then covering it with peptidoglycan as the spore hardens and is finally released into the cellular environment. This procedure is commonly carried out by bacteria of the genera Bacillus , Clostridium, and by some cyanobacteria.
- Sporulation in fungi . The procedure in fungi is similar to the bacterial one, in that genetic replication occurs through mitosis , except that in the case of multicellular fungi this process is carried out in specialized structures known as asci, basidia, conidiophores or sporangia, depending on the type and species of fungus. These are then released into the environment , generally by air, and transported by wind to new destinations. The spore-producing fungi belong to the ascomycetes, basidiomycetes, conidiophores (imperfect fungi), zygomycetes, glomeromycetes or chytrids.
- Sporulation in plants. Many plant species have a reproductive mechanism that alternates from generation to generation, between spore production and gamete production. Many of these spores are differentiated into female and male, just like animal gametes, since they are formed by meiosis (and not by mitosis). These spores are classified into microspores (which give rise to pollen) and macrospores (which give rise to ovules within the flower). Both angiosperms and gymnosperms are known to use this reproductive method, as well as green algae, rhophytic algae, and other known types.
Other forms of asexual reproduction
In addition to sporulation, there are other non-sexual reproduction mechanisms (that is, they involve a single individual and have little or no genetic variation), such as:
- Binary fission . Typical of unicellular organisms , it consists of the replication of DNA and cellular content, until a double individual is formed that will later separate, through the narrowing of the plasma membrane , into two new genetically identical individuals.
- Budding . It consists of the formation of extensions or prominences of the body of the parent , which can then separate from it and have a life of its own, or remain together and start a colony. It can also occur at the cellular level, as an asymmetric mitosis process.
- Parthenogenesis. Typical of certain animals (flatworms, rotifers, tardigrades, insects, amphibians , fish and crustaceans , but also some reptiles ), it consists of the development of a new individual, although genetically equal to the parent, through the development of unfertilized female sex cells.