Limited period of graviresponsiveness in germinating spores of Ceratopteris richardii


Rhizoids of the fern Ceratopteris richardii Brogn. usually emerge 40 h after germination is initiated by light, and more than 90% of them emerge growing in a downward direction. However, when the spores are germinated on a clinostat, the emerging rhizoids show no preferential orientation. This indicates that under normal 1 · g conditions the initial growth direction of rhizoids can be oriented by gravity. If the orientation of the spores is changed 3 h or less after the start of germination, the growth direction of most emerging rhizoids becomes downward relative to the new orientation. However, if the orientation of the spores is changed by 180° 8 h or more after germination is initiated by light, most rhizoids emerge growing upward; i.e., the same direction as if there had been no orientation change. Emerged rhizoids also do not change their direction of growth if their orientation is changed. These results indicate that the growth direction of emerging rhizoids is set by gravity prior to actual emergence, and that the time of full orientation responsiveness is limited to a period ranging from the initiation of germination to about 3–4 h after the start of germination. There is a gravity-oriented nuclear movement beginning at about 13 h after germination, and this movement appears to predict the initial growth direction of rhizoids.

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Correspondence to Stanley J. Roux.

Additional information

These studies were made possible by grant NAGW 1519 to S.J.R. and grant NGT-51065 to E.S.E., both from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Edwards, E.S., Roux, S.J. Limited period of graviresponsiveness in germinating spores of Ceratopteris richardii . Planta 195, 150–152 (1994).

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Key words

  • Cell polarity
  • Ceratopteris
  • Fern gametophyte
  • Gravity
  • Nuclear migration
  • Rhizoid