J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2009, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (3): 243-250.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00780.x

• Cell and Developmental Biology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Ultrastructure of the Mature Egg and Fertilization in the Fern Ceratopteris thalictroides

Jian-Guo Cao, Nai-Ying Yang and Quan-Xi Wang   

  • Received:2008-03-04 Accepted:2008-06-20 Published:2009-03-02


The ultrastructure of the mature egg and fertilization in the fern Ceratopteris thalictroides (L.) Brongn. were observed by transmission electron microscopy. The results revealed that the mature egg possesses an obvious egg membrane at the periphery of the egg. Furthermore, a fertilization pore was identified in the upper egg membrane of the mature egg. The structure of the pore is described for the first time. The fertilization experiment indicated that spermatozoids crowd into the cavity above the egg through the neck canal of the archegonium; however, only one of these can penetrate into the egg through the fertilization pore. Immediately on penetration of the spermatozoid, the egg begins to shrink. The volume of the fertilized egg decreases to almost one-half that of the unfertilized egg. As a result, the protoplasm of the fertilized egg becomes dense and opaque, which may lead to a situation where the organelles of both the egg and the fertilizing spermatozoid become indistinguishable. Simultaneously, abundant vesicles containing concentric membranes or opaque materials appear near the fertilization pore in the cytoplasm of the fertilized egg. These vesicles are considered to act as a barrier that prevents polyspermy. The present study provides a new insight into the ultrastructure of the mature egg and the cytological mechanism of fertilization in ferns.  

Cao JG, Yang NY, Wang QX (2009). Ultrastructure of the mature egg and fertilization in the fern Ceratopteris thalictroides. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 51(3), 243–250.

Key words: Ceratopteris thalictroides, fern, fertilization, fertilization pore

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