Study on Gametophytes of Four Species of Maiden Hair Ferns (Adiantum L.) and Their Systematic Implications
Matured spores of four (4) species of maiden hair ferns namely, Adiantum capillus-veneris L., A. caudatum L., A. edgeworthii Hook. and A. incisum Forssk. were collected and grown in petri-dishes containing natural media formed by mixing dead wood of tree fern (Cyathea Sm.), sand and charcoal powder (2:1:1). The cultures in triplicates for each species were monitored every day from the stage of sowing to the chimera formation. After disintegration of gametophytes, juvenile sporophytes were shifted to pots and morphological characters were studied till the dehiscence of sporangia. Spore germination initiated between 4-6 days for A. capillus-veneris, 7-9 days in A. caudatum and A. incisum and 10-12 days in A. edgeworthii. Prothallia in all the Adiantum are autotrophic, Vittaria type, cordate-shaped, homosporous with antheridia developing earlier than archegonia and remain confined on the adaxial surface. The gametophytes showed considerable variation in their shapes, orientation of lobes, presence or absence of hairs and placement of sex organs on the prothallia. The gametophytic and sporophytic characters are correlated and used in structuring key to species. The study concludes that gametophytic characters also constitute a dependable criterion for assessing their systematics.
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