70% of nitrogen in rice paddies can come from the fern-like water plant named Azolla.
Azolla reproduces sexually, and asexually by splitting.
From Wiki: Like all ferns, sexual reproduction leads to spore formation, but Azolla sets itself apart from other members of its group by producing two kinds. During the summer months, numerous spherical structures called sporocarps form on the undersides of the branches. The male sporocarp is greenish or reddish and looks like the egg mass of an insect or spider. It is two millimeters in diameter, and inside are numerous male sporangia. Male spores (microspores) are extremely small and are produced inside each microsporangium. Curiously, microspores tend to adhere in clumps called massulae.
Female sporocarps are much smaller, containing one sporangium and one functional spore. Since an individual female spore is considerably larger than a male spore, it is termed a megaspore.
Azolla has microscopic male and female gametophytes that develop inside the male and female spores. The female gametophyte protrudes from the megaspore and bears a small number of archegonia, each containing a single egg. The microspore forms a male gametophyte with a single antheridium which produces eight swimming sperm. The barbed glochidia on the male spore clusters are assumed to cause them to cling to the female megaspores, thus facilitating fertilization.
11 years, 3 months ago