Related topics: bacteria · fungus · pathogens

Feather mites may help clean birds' plumage, study shows

Feather mites help to remove bacteria and fungi from the feathers of birds, according to a new study by University of Alberta biologists. In fact, the relationship between these mites and their hosts could be considered mutualism, ...

Mini-tornadoes of spores illuminated during raindrop impact

Plant diseases are a significant threat to our food security. Rain provides fresh water to our crops, but splashing drops may also contribute to the spread of plant disease. Raindrop impact is known to be a mechanism for ...

How a fungus can cripple the immune system

The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus is everywhere, and is extremely dangerous for people with weakened immune systems. It occurs virtually everywhere on Earth, as a dark grey stain on damp walls or in microscopically small spores ...

For ants, unity is strength—and health

When a pathogen enters their colony, ants change their behavior to avoid the outbreak of disease. In this way, they protect the queen, brood and young workers from becoming ill. These results, from a study carried out in ...

Unravelling the genetics of fungal fratricide

Selfish genes are genes that are passed on to the next generation but confer no advantage on the individual as a whole, and may sometimes be harmful. Researchers at Uppsala University have, for the first time, sequenced (or ...

Why bacteria survive in space—biologists discover clues

In professor George Fox's lab at the University of Houston, scientists are studying Earth germs that could be contaminating other planets. Despite extreme decontamination efforts, bacterial spores from Earth still manage ...

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In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoans. A chief difference between spores and seeds as dispersal units is that spores have very little stored food resources compared with seeds.

Spores are usually haploid and unicellular and are produced by meiosis in the sporangium by the sporophyte. Once conditions are favorable, the spore can develop into a new organism using mitotic division, producing a multicellular gametophyte, which eventually goes on to produce gametes.

Two gametes fuse to create a new sporophyte. This cycle is known as alternation of generations, but a better term is "biological life cycle", as there may be more than one phase and so it cannot be a direct alternation. Haploid spores produced by mitosis (known as mitospores) are used by many fungi for asexual reproduction.

Many ferns, especially those adapted to dry conditions, produce diploid spores. This form of asexual reproduction is called apogamy. It is a form of apomixis.

Spores are the units of asexual reproduction, because a single spore develops into a new organism. By contrast, gametes are the units of sexual reproduction, as two gametes need to fuse to create a new organism.

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