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a plant organ in which spores are formed. A sporangium may be unicellular (in many lower plants) or multicellular (in higher plants). Certain unicellular green algae undergo complete transformation in the sporangium. In multicellular algae, such as Ulothrix and Ulva, cells indistinct from other cells may become sporangia; in Ectocarpus and Laminaría the sporangium is formed from cells that differ from all other cells and occupy a definite position on the thallus. In certain acellular plants sporangia are formed on the thallus by forming a septum. The sporangia of some oomycetes become conidia, fall off, and sprout. The names of sporangia in lower plants reflect the structural features of the spores that form in them (for example, zoo-sporangium), the number of spores (monosporangium, tetraspo-rangium), the external appearance of the sporangium (cysto-carp), or the method of spore formation (mitosporangium, meiosporangium). The succession of nuclear phases in plant cycles of development is associated with meiosporangia.
Higher plants form only meiosporangia. In bryophytes the sporangium is represented by the capsule of the sporogonium. The sporangia of ferns develop on sporophylls or in their axils. Sporangia may be solitary or in groups (sori) and may be free or con-cresced (synangia). Isosporous ferns form sporangia of a single type, which produce spores that germinate in bisexual prothallia. Heterosporous ferns produce sporangia of two types— microsporangia and megasporangia—which, in turn, form microspores and megaspores (from which male and female prothallia develop). All seed plants are heterosporous; the nucellus of their ovule is homologous to a megasporangium. The pollen cell in an-giosperms is homologous to a microsporangium.
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A. N. SLADKOV