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Sexual Reproduction in Plants

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Sexual Reproduction in Plants

Sexual reproduction of plants refers to the fusion of gametes in order to produce offspring. A superior method of reproduction is sexual reproduction because it brings variation and evolution. Offspring created via the fusion of gametes differ genetically from their parents. During flowering, various processes occur in plants that lead to the creation of descendant plants. The result of this process is fruits and seeds. These seeds then grow into new plants.

The Process of Sexual Reproduction 

During flowering, plants reproduce sexually. They produce both female and male gametes. Meiosis is a critical phase in the sexual reproduction of plants. As a result of this, genes are rearranged and chromosome numbers are decreased. Pollination and fertilization are the two main phases of sexual reproduction. Following fertilization, fruit and seeds are formed in the flower. The supporting parts fall off after a certain period of time. 

The Layers of a Flower

A flower, in general, may comprise pistil or stamen or both. A flower is classified into unisexual or bisexual depending on the fact whether it contains stamen or pistil. A flower that is bisexual consists of all the parts, as said above. For example, China rose.  Plants such as cucumber and papaya produce unisexual flowers. 

  • Calyx: Calyxes are made up of sepals. Florets begin at the base of a flower and appear in the first three layers. Some plants have green sepals, while others have colorful sepals. Sepals are primarily used to protect flowers. 

  • Corolla: A corolla is a group of petals. Birds and insects are attracted to the petals' colors, which helps with pollination.  

  • Androecium: Androecium contains stamens. The stamen is a male reproductive part consisting of filaments and anthers. In nature, anthers resemble sacs, and they store pollen and produce it. A filament supports an another.  

  • Gynoecium: The gynoecium is composed of carpels. Pistils contain stigmas, ovaries, and styles, which are all reproductive parts of females. The stigma is the uppermost part of the flower. The style is the long tube that joins the ovary with the stigma. In each ovary, there are thousands of ovules. The ovary is where seeds are produced in plants.

The Pollination and Fertilization of Plants

A zygote is formed when pollen grains containing male gametes fuse with eggs in ovules. Pollination is the process by which this occurs. In pollination, pollen grains are transferred from the anther, the male part of the flower, to the stigma, the female part. There are two kinds of pollination based on where the pollen lands:

  • The transfer of pollen between the anthers and stigmas of the same flower is called self-pollination.

  • Cross-pollination occurs when pollen transfers from the stigma of one flower to those of another flower on the same species or different species of the same plant.

Generally, pollination is carried out by certain agents known as pollinators. These include insects, water, birds, and wind. Pollen grains transfer to the stigma where they release male gametes that fuse with the egg to form a zygote. This process of fusing gametes is known as fertilization. As a result, the zygote divides into an embryo, which becomes a seed later. An ovary begins to develop into a fruit.

The process of producing offspring in plants by the fusion of gametes is called the sexual reproduction of plants. Sexual reproduction is always considered a superior method as it brings variation and evolution. The fusing of gametes results in offspring that are genetically not the same as the parent plant. The reproduction happens by different processes that occur in plants and give rise to a descendant plant. Fruits and seeds are the results of sexual reproduction. The seeds further contribute to the growth of a new plant.

Process of Sexual Reproduction 

Sexual reproduction of plants happens in flowers. Flowers produce both female and male gametes. Meiosis is a crucial phase in the sexual reproduction of plants. It makes the rearrangement of genes and also decreases the number of chromosomes. The process of sexual reproduction mainly consists of phases called pollination and fertilization. After fertilization, fruit, and seeds form the flower. The supportive parts fall off after a specific time. 

A typical flower consists of the following layers: 

  • Calyx.

  • Corolla.

  • Androecium.

  • Gynoecium. 

The calyx is a set of sepals. They are small florets that occur in the first three layers of a flower starting from the base. Sepals are usually green, but in some plants, it is colorful. The primary function is to safeguard the flower. 

Corolla is a collection of petals. The petals are colorful, hence an attraction to birds and insects that can help in pollination. 

The androecium consists of stamens. Stamen is the male reproductive part made of parts called filament and anther. Another looks like a sac, and it stores and produces pollen. Filament acts in support of another.  

The gynoecium is a collection of carpels. The pistil is the female reproductive part that consists of stigma, ovary, and style. The topmost part of a flower is a stigma. A long tube that connects the ovary to the stigma is called style. Ovary holds a vast number of ovules. Seed formation in a plant takes place at the ovary.

A flower, in general, may comprise pistil or stamen or both. A flower is classified into unisexual or bisexual depending on the fact whether it contains stamen or pistil. A flower that is bisexual consists of all the parts, as said above. For example, China rose.  Plants such as cucumber and papaya produce unisexual flowers.

Pollination and Fertilization

For the formation of a zygote, pollen grains containing male gametes must fuse along with the egg in the ovule. The process of fusing of male gametes with eggs is called pollination. We can also say pollination as the transfer of pollen grains on stigma from the anther. Based on the landing of pollen, we classify pollination into two types: 

Self-pollination: If the pollen grain landed on stigma and is from the anther of the same flower, then we call the process self-pollination. There are many advantages as well as disadvantages of self-pollination. Hence some flowers use mechanisms to avoid self-pollination. 

Cross-pollination: The process of pollination where pollen grain on the stigma falls from the anther of another flower from a different or same plant is called cross-pollination. This process helps in bringing out a genetic variation in plants allowing them to defend against environmental changes that do not favor them.

The process of pollination involves some agents that are known as pollinators. Pollinators can be insects, birds, wind, and water. The pollination through wind happens by pollen grains traveling through the wind and landing on the stigma. As pollen grains are open to the wind, they are sticky so that they stick to the stigma tightly. Sometimes honey bees come in search of nectar aid in the process of pollination.  

On the transfer of pollen to stigma, the male gametes release from pollen grain and fuse with the egg in the ovule, leading to the formation of a zygote. The process of formation of a zygote by the fusion of gametes is known as fertilization.

Sometimes in angiosperms, a male gamete fuses with an ovule having two nuclei; this process is called double fertilization. One male gamete forms the zygote, but the other one fuses with diploid polar nuclei to create an endosperm. The zygote develops the future plant, and endosperm helps in nutrition for the embryo. The best example for endosperm is tender coconut water, and it is nothing but endosperm which supplies nutrients to the growing embryo.  

Once fertilization is over, the ovary turns into a fruit, and ovules help in the formation of the seeds. The remaining parts peel off eventually.


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The result of this process is the generation of male gametes. The pollen mother cell present in the anther undergoes meiosis and forms microspores. A pollen mother cell or microspore mother cell is 2n-diploid. Further microspore mother cells divide to form a tetrad. Upon maturation of the microspores or pollen grains, another leaves or releases them. 


The result of megasporogenesis is the formation of female gametes known as megaspores or eggs. The megaspore mother cell is diploid. The megaspore mother cell gives rise to four haploid megaspores, out of which only one is useful, and others degenerate. Ovules are called the megasporangium.

Development of a Seed

Mature ovules form the seeds. A typical seed has a seed coat, cotyledons, single embryo, and endosperm. There is a difference in the storage of food reserves between monocots and dicots. In plants such as wheat and corn, scutellum is the name given to the single cotyledon. Xylem and phloem directly connect the scutellum to the embryo. Aleurone is a cell layer inside a seed coat that secretes enzymes upon germination, and it surrounds the endosperm and embryo. The seed with ovule is covered by a seed coat, which forms due to integuments of the ovule sac and helps in protection. In the case of dicots, the seed coat is of two layers, inner tegmen, and outer testa.

Features of Sexual Reproduction

The process of sexual reproduction takes a longer time than asexual reproduction. The offspring produced in the case of sexual reproduction are not similar to their parent plant genetically. The fusion of gametes from both male and female parts forms the zygote, which further divides to grow into a new plant. The parts that are involved in reproduction get modified into fruit and seed of the plant. The process of reproduction requires the contribution of both sexes, whether from the same plant or a different plant.


Despite its benefits, sexual reproduction in plants is a natural process. Sexual reproduction gives us every fruit we consume. Even the seeds used to grow plants are the result of sexual reproduction. A haploid plant known as a gametophyte produces diploid gametes that confer diploidy on its offspring. This life cycle is referred to as the alternation of generations. Gametophytes are created by sporophytes generating haploid gametes. Pollination occurs as a result of many natural agents, either knowingly or unknowingly. The process of reproduction is necessary in order to continue the existence of a species. Certain flowers naturally have a fragrance that helps attract pollinating agents. In order to form the zygote, the pollen grain must fuse and be pollinated. The process of sexual reproduction in plants comes with its benefits. All the fruits that we consume are a result of sexual reproduction, even the seeds used to grow a plant are a result of this process. The type of life cycle of plants is called alternation of generations because a haploid plant known as gametophyte produces diploid gametes that make the offspring diploid. Sporophytes generate haploid gametes again, giving rise to gametophytes. Many natural agents help in the process of pollination knowingly or unknowingly. Reproduction is essential as it helps in the continuation of the species. Naturally, pollen grains of some flowers have a fragrance that attracts the agents that will help in pollination. Pollination happens after the pollen grain is mature to fuse and form the zygote.  

Last updated date: 29th Sep 2023
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FAQs on Sexual Reproduction in Plants

1. What are the Features of Sexual Reproduction?

  • There are two parents involved (a male and a female).

  • Gametes are formed and fertilized.

  • There is a lengthy and slow process involved.

  • Different genetic and physical characteristics distinguish offspring from parents.

 2. In the Absence of Pollination, What happens?

The process of fertilization happens when male gametes land on female gametes. In the absence of fertilization, seeds and fruits cannot be produced. Therefore, it has been proved that plants cannot reproduce and produce fruit without pollination.

 3. What are the Disadvantages and Advantages of Sexual Reproduction?

In the process of sexual reproduction, alleles that are carried by each parent are merged into the offspring, creating variation within the species. The disadvantage of sexual reproduction is that it takes longer than asexual reproduction.

 4. What is Budding?

The yeast is a single-celled organism. Buds are bulb-like projections that extend from yeast cells. Gradually, the bud separates from the parent cell and becomes a new yeast cell. This new yeast cell grows, matures, and produces more yeast cells. In a short period of time, a large number of yeast cells will be produced.

 5. What is Zygote?

In embryonic plants, seeds are surrounded by a protective covering. A ripened ovule produces seeds after it has been fertilized by pollen and has grown within the mother plant. From the zygote, the embryo is formed, and the seed coat is formed by the integuments of the ovule.

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