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Difference Between Gymnosperms and Ferns

fernsGymnosperms vs Ferns

Many people know what ferns are. Not by how their life cycle progresses but by their general appearance. But many don’t know what gymnosperms are. This group of plants is rather more technical but it is very surprising to know that they are just one of those familiar tree plants and shrubs that you happen to see around.

Ferns are plants that do not bear flowers. They do not have any seeds as well. In this regard, their mode of reproduction is through spores. Gymnosperms on the other hand have seeds, although they are not put inside an ovary. Hence, they procreate using those seeds. Examples of such are the conifers and cycads.

In terms of family classification, ferns are grouped within the division Pteridophyta whereas gymnosperms have four divisions namely: Pinophyta (conifers), Ginkgophyta, Gnetophyta and Cycadophyta. The first division is regarded as the biggest of them all that specifically includes pines trees.

Moreover, it has been noted that ferns are the bigger group of plants that is comprised of almost 20,000 different species whereas gymnosperms only have less than 1,000. There are 700 to 900 species of gymnosperms to be more exact.

In more detail, the life cycles of ferns and gymnosperms really differ. Ferns’ cycle is usually described as an alternation of several generations that usually start in a sporophyte (diploid cells) producing many spores through meiotic cell division. The latter grows further through mitotic division to form gametophytes. These gametophytes create gametes (usually sperms and eggs altogether). The more motile sperm will then look for an egg to fertilize while still being affixed to the prothallus. After fertilization, the resultant product is a new diploid cell that matures through a second round of mitotic division hence making the actual sporophyte ‘“ the fern.

Gymnosperms are also termed as sporophytes that create spores. Their mode of reproduction slightly varies depending on the division to which the gymnosperm belongs. For example, cycads have more mobile sperms that can go immediately towards the egg in the ovule by swimming. Conifers on the contrary have flagella-less or ‘tail less’ sperms that are transmitted to the eggs using a certain pollen tube. Also, there is a difference in the gametophytic life cycle stages between ferns and gymnosperms wherein ferns have complex liberally surviving gametophytes unlike gymnosperms.

Summary :
1.Ferns are flowerless plants that do not have any seeds whereas gymnosperms do have seeds of their own.
2.Ferns are grouped in one division whereas gymnosperms have four different divisions.
3.Ferns have a bigger number of species compared to gymnosperms.
4.Ferns have free-living gametophytes whereas gymnosperms don’t.

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