Differences Between Bryophytes vs Ferns
Through the evolutionary process, earth has colonized with vascular plants and non-vascular plants which are called primitive land plants. Bryophytes are generally called as non vascular plants and ferns are generally called as vascular plants. Even though, as primitive plants both plant groups have similarities and differences, but this article mainly concerns about differences between them.
Bryophytes are small plants, which are taxonomically placed between algae and pteridophytes. It has three major classes that are recognized as Musci (Mosses), Hepaticae (Liverworts), and Anthocerotae (Hornworts). All these three classes lack adaptations of higher plants such as true leaves, roots, vascular system and lignin. They have alternate haploid gametophytic generation and diploid saprophytic generation where the gametophyte is the dominant generation. Sporophyte is saprophytic on the gametophyte.
Ecologically, bryophytes are important as indicators of environmental conditions due to their extreme sensitivity to air, water, and soil pollution. Because of the high water holding capacity and the permeability to the air, some bryophytes like Sphagnum are used as soil conditioners. Despite their ecological and horticultural uses, they have been used for many medical purposes since ancient time. In recent times, mosses are used in cell cultures, to produce pharmaceutically important proteins.
Ferns and ferns allies (Pteridophytes) represent the vascular tissue plants as the earliest group of land plants, which have four phyla as Psilotophyta, Lycophyta, Sphenophyta (the fern allies), and Pterophyta (the true ferns). When considering true ferns (pteropthyta) as bryophytes, these ferns also have alternative generations, and the dominant generation is diploid saprophytic generation.
Gametophyte is a prothallus, which is green and photosynthetic produced by a spore of sporophyte. The sporophyte is the diploid stage of the pteridophyte life cycle, and it is photosynthetic and produces neither flowers nor seeds. Ferns are used as soil binders as well as ornamental plants.
What is the difference between Bryophytes and Ferns?
• Bryophytes are non-vascular plants, whereas ferns are vascular plants.
• Habitats of bryophytes are mainly wet environments, but ferns can be seen in a wide range of habitat from the aquatic environment to dry terrestrial environments.
• The size of the bryophyte plant is small, restricting to few millimeters, whereas ferns have a broad range of structures from 0.5 cm about 10m of height.
• Bryophytes are lack of true leaves, roots and stem, but ferns have underground stem or rhizoids, large compound leaves and wiry roots.
• Bryophytes have special nutrition called matrotrophy; i.e. sugars and other materials are translocated along the cell apoplast movement, from gametophyte to the developing sporophyte through placental tissue whereas, in ferns, there are xylem and phloem to transport water and sugar through the plant body.
• In bryophytes, gametophyte is the independent generation and sporophyte is depending on the gametophyte whereas, in ferns, sporophyte is the dominant generation.
• Gametophyte of a bryophyte is not a prothallus, whereas the gametophyte of the fern is prothallus.
• The “leaves” of the bryophyte are small, and the leaves of the ferns are compound frond like.
• Ferns fronds at the initial stage show circinate vernation whereas bryophyte “leaves” do not.
• There are some leaf cells of bryophytes that have special oil bodies, whereas ferns do not have that.
• At the underside of a fern frond, there are sori, which are clusters of sporangia but, in bryophyte, spores are in the capsule.
• Ferns have better adaptations to the terrestrial habitats than bryophytes such as having vascular tissues etc.
• At last it can be concluded that, although these both plants are primitive plants they have several differences to survive their lives on earth.