Friday, March 25, 2011

Fossombronia caespitiformis, ventured out of the water

Today I will speak of a very primitive plant belonging to the group of the Hepatics, the Fossombronia caespitiformis. Millions of years ago his aquatic ancestor, an alga, dared to peek into the world colonized land and rocks washed by the fresh water of any lake, river, stream or pond temporary. Gradually became accustomed to short periods of drought with little adaptive mutations that allow it to survive today dehydrated for most of the year. Such is the degree of dehydration in the long summer months virtually unseen. With the first rains of autumn, its leaves like lettuce tiny rehydrate, expand, turn green again and restart their life cycle accumulating nutrients, water and energy through photosynthesis. Early in the winter develops its fruiting bodies, sporophyte, as black balls full of spores at the extremity of long transparent thallus, in an attempt to maximize in order to better and further disperse the spores to colonize new territories.

Fossombronia caespitiformis in February on a limestone facing to the northwest, growing like a green and white carpet cover of fruiting bodies at different stages of maturation.

Fossombronia caespitiformis with vigorous mature sporophytes in early February to embark on the dispersal of spores.

Sporophytes change color as they mature. At first have a deep black color, then they acquire a brown hue increasingly clear until the spores are mature, the fruiting body is torn apart explosively throwing as far as possible the spores.

Details of sporophytes at different stages of maturation. Double clicking on the picture to enlarge You can see the tiny brown spores that have been attached to the torn membrane of fruiting bodies and also the transparent petals.

Photomicrograph at 40 magnification of a sporophyte Fossombronia caespitiformis with measures in microns.

Photomicrograph of the previous sporophyte at the precise moment to tear the bag of fruiting body and disperse the spores. (Double click on the photo to enlarge)

 Fossombronia caespitiformis spores photographed at 400 magnification. Bear a strong resemblance to sea urchins. Its measures to identify with certainty the species.

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