Asexual Reproduction

Recall that asexual reproduction is the production of an individual without the union of gametes. Elaborate technology has recently yielded some success in the asexual reproduction of mammals to create clones, or exact duplicates of organisms. But people who create clones of themselves are still the subjects of science fiction movies and books. However, asexual reproduction to create clones is common in the plant kingdom.

Asexual reproduction can be an advantage to individuals that are well-adapted to their environment. Many new individuals can be produced in a short time, which enables the clones to spread rapidly and fill available space. A disadvantage of asexual reproduction is the lack of genetic variation among the offspring. All of the offspring are genetically identical. Thus, the clones have the same tolerance to an environment and are attacked by the same diseases and pests. Many of our plant cultivars are clones.

In nature, plants reproduce asexually in many ways, including the development of spores and vegetative reproduction. Vegetative reproduction is asexual reproduction involving vegetative (nonreproductive) parts of a plant, such as leaves, stems, or roots. Many structures specialized for vegetative reproduction have evolved in plants. Table 30-2 lists some of these structures. One example of vegetative reproduction is shown in Figure 30-15.

figure 30-15

New plants are vegetatively reproduced from the stolons (runners) of an airplane plant, also called a spider plant.

figure 30-15

New plants are vegetatively reproduced from the stolons (runners) of an airplane plant, also called a spider plant.

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