The key difference between Bryophytes and Ferns is that the bryophytes are nonvascular plants having a dominant gametophyte generation while the ferns are vascular plants having a dominant sporophyte generation.
Through the evolutionary process, earth colonized with vascular plants and non-vascular plants which are called primitive land plants. Among these primitive land plants, bryophytes are a group of non-vascular plants while ferns are a group of vascular plants. Even though, as primitive plants, both plant groups have similarities and differences. This article mainly concerns about the difference between bryophytes and ferns.
What are Bryophytes?
Bryophytes are small plants, which taxonomically place between algae and pteridophytes. It has three major classes; namely, Musci (Mosses), Hepaticae (Liverworts), and Anthocerotae (Hornworts). These three groups of plants lack adaptations of higher plants such as true leaves, roots, vascular system and lignin, etc. Instead, they have alternate haploid gametophytic generation and diploid saprophytic generation where the gametophyte is the dominant generation. The 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. Furthermore, some bryophytes such as Sphagnum have importance as soil conditioners due to their high water holding capacity and the permeability to the air. Despite their ecological and horticultural uses, they have been used for many medical purposes since the ancient time. In recent times, mosses are used in cell cultures, to produce pharmaceutically important proteins.
What are Ferns?
Ferns and ferns allies (Pteridophytes) represent the vascular tissue plants as the earliest group of land plants, which have four phyla. Namely, they are the Psilotophyta, Lycophyta, Sphenophyta (the fern allies), and Pterophyta (the true ferns).
When considering true ferns (Pteridophyta), similar to bryophytes, these ferns also show alternative generations. However, unlike bryophytes, ferns have a dominant sporophyte generation that is diploid. Gametophyte generation represents by a prothallus, which is green and photosynthetic produced by a spore of the sporophyte. The sporophyte is the diploid stage of the pteridophyte life cycle, and it is also photosynthetic. But, it does not produce flowers or seeds. Similar to bryophytes, ferns are also important plants. They act as soil binders. Also, they can use as ornamental plants.
What are the Similarities Between Bryophytes and Ferns?
- Bryophytes and ferns are two groups of plants that belong to Kingdom Plantae.
- They both are photosynthetic plants.
- Furthermore, they are primitive land plants.
- Also, both bryophytes and ferns show alternate of generations.
- Besides, they are non-flowering and seedless plants.
- And, they reproduce via spores.
- Moreover, they are able to grow on other higher plants.
- Both bryophytes and ferns are able to prevent soil erosion.
What is the Difference Between Bryophytes and Ferns?
Bryophytes and ferns are non-flowering plants. Furthermore, they are seedless plants. The key difference between bryophytes and ferns is that the bryophytes are nonvascular plants while ferns are vascular plants. In simple words, bryophytes lack xylem and phloem while xylem and phloem are present in ferns. Furthermore, bryophytes do not have true leaves while ferns have true leaves. Not only that, bryophytes do not have true stems and roots while ferns have true stems and roots. Thus, it is also a difference between bryophytes and ferns.
In bryophytes, gametophyte generation is dominating while in ferns, sporophyte generation is dominating. Hence, it is also a difference between bryophytes and ferns. One of the most striking features of ferns is the circinate vernation. However, bryophytes do not show circinate vernation. Therefore, it is another difference between bryophytes and ferns. Also, one more difference between bryophytes and ferns is that ferns have sori while bryophytes do not have it.
Below infographic on the difference between bryophytes and ferns shows more detailed comparison.
Summary – Bryophytes vs Ferns
Bryophytes and ferns are two major groups of plants that belong to phylum Bryophyta and phylum Pteridophyta respectively. Both groups are primitive plants. The key difference between bryophytes and ferns is the presence and absence of vascular tissues. Bryophytes do not have vascular tissue. Hence they are non-vascular plants while ferns have a vascular tissue hence they are vascular plants. Furthermore, bryophytes do not have true leaves, stems, and roots while ferns have true leaves, stems and roots. Therefore, bryophytes are found in moist habitats while ferns are found in many habitats including dry areas. However, both groups show alternate of generation. But in bryophytes, gametophyte generation is dominant while in ferns, sporophyte generation is dominant. This is the summary of the difference between bryophytes and ferns.