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Q & A: Underwater Plants Reproducing

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How do aquatic plants (floating and submerged aquatic plants)reproduce since there is no pollination in the water,unlike land plants which rely on wind or insect for pollination?
- Alvin (age 12)
Singapore
A:
Alvin -

I asked Professor Zielinski in the Plant Biology department about this for you and this is what he told me:

There are two important ways that aquatic plants can reproduce. Some higher plants that live aquatically (like water lilies), extend roots into the water, but produce flowers above water. These can disperse pollen in the usual ways, by air, water or insects. Totally submerged plants like algae (giant kelps in the ocean and things like Spirogyra in freshwater streams and ponds) don't flower, but reproduce by releasing gametes (reproductive cells) into the water where they must, by chance, encounter another reproductive structure to fertilize for sexual reproduction to occur. This is pretty inefficient, but it's the same strategy as lower animals (like sea urchins, for example).

Thanks, Dr. Z!

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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