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Biology LibreTexts

32.3A: Asexual Reproduction in Plants

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    • Contributed by Boundless
    • General Microbiology at Boundless

    Plants can reproduce asexually, without the fertilization of gametes, by either vegetative reproduction or apomixis.

    Learning Objectives

    • Summarize methods of asexual reproduction in plants

    Key Points

    • Asexual reproduction produces individuals that are genetically identical to the parent plant.
    • Roots such as corms, stem tubers, rhizomes, and stolon undergo vegetative reproduction.
    • Some plants can produce seeds without fertilization via apomixis where the ovule or ovary gives rise to new seeds.
    • Advantages of asexual reproduction include an increased rate of maturity and a sturdier adult plant.
    • Asexual reproduction can take place by natural or artificial means.

    Key Terms

    • stolon: a shoot that grows along the ground and produces roots at its nodes; a runner
    • apomixis: process of reproduction in which plants produce seeds without fertilization

    Asexual Reproduction

    Many plants are able to propagate themselves using asexual reproduction. This method does not require the investment required to produce a flower, attract pollinators, or find a means of seed dispersal. Asexual reproduction produces plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant because no mixing of male and female gametes takes place. Traditionally, these plants survive well under stable environmental conditions when compared with plants produced from sexual reproduction because they carry genes identical to those of their parents.

    Plants have two main types of asexual reproduction: vegetative reproduction and apomixis. Vegetative reproduction results in new plant individuals without the production of seeds or spores. Many different types of roots exhibit vegetative reproduction. The corm is used by gladiolus and garlic. Bulbs, such as a scaly bulb in lilies and a tunicate bulb in daffodils, are other common examples of this type of reproduction. A potato is a stem tuber, while parsnip propagates from a taproot. Ginger and iris produce rhizomes, while ivy uses an adventitious root (a root arising from a plant part other than the main or primary root), and the strawberry plant has a stolon, which is also called a runner.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Roots: Different types of stems allow for asexual reproduction. (a) The corm of a garlic plant looks similar to (b) a tulip bulb, but the corm is solid tissue, while the bulb consists of layers of modified leaves that surround an underground stem. Both corms and bulbs can self-propagate, giving rise to new plants. (c) Ginger forms masses of stems called rhizomes that can give rise to multiple plants. (d) Potato plants form fleshy stem tubers. Each eye in the stem tuber can give rise to a new plant. (e) Strawberry plants form stolons: stems that grow at the soil surface or just below ground and can give rise to new plants

    Some plants can produce seeds without fertilization. Either the ovule or part of the ovary, which is diploid in nature, gives rise to a new seed. This method of reproduction is known as apomixis.

    An advantage of asexual reproduction is that the resulting plant will reach maturity faster. Since the new plant is arising from an adult plant or plant parts, it will also be sturdier than a seedling. Asexual reproduction can take place by natural or artificial (assisted by humans) means.

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