Why we are here:

Our signature Bible passage, the prologue to John's Gospel, tells us that Jesus (the Logos) is God and Creator and that He came in the flesh (sarx) to redeem His fallen, sin-cursed creation—and especially those He chose to believe in Him.

Here in Bios & Logos we have some fun examining small corners of the creation to show how great a Creator Jesus is—and our need for Him as Redeemer. Soli Deo Gloria.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have you considered spores lately?

Have you been contemplating the subject of spores these days? Not likely, unless you’re a total botany nut like me. But most likely you have been experiencing—even suffering—the effects of spores during this spring season. Let me explain (be patient—this may take a while).

The photos above, mostly shot within the past month, all have to do with spores of one sort or another…

But sir, you haven’t even given us a definition of the word! What kind of teacher are you?!

OK, a spore is a unicellular (usually microscopic), monoploid reproductive structure which will germinate and grow into a plant if given suitable conditions.

That was not helpful, sir. You’ve only further confused us.

Very well, allow me to at least define some of those terms:

Microscopic: teensy weensy
Unicellular: comprised of one cell
Monoploid (AKA haploid): containing one set of chromosomes
Reproductive: makes a baby something
Germinate: sprout
Grow: get bigger
Plant: a multicellular usually photosynthetic organism
Suitable: nice

Sir, we sense a bit of sarcasm and condescension in some of your definitions.

So be it. Let’s go on. Perhaps describing some of the photos will help. The top two photos show some moss sporophytes.

What’s a sporophyte?

A plant that reproduces by means of spores. And I wish you wouldn’t interrupt so often. You’re beginning to sound like Neil Cavuto!

OK, sir. But we’re only seeking clarification—just trying to get edjacated!

That’s ed-u-cated! Those sporophytes, consisting of a stalk and a spore capsule, produce microscopic spores by the process of meiosis


Look it up for yourself!!

The spores get sprinkled out, using a magnificently designed mechanism involving changes in humidity and those little teeth you see in one of the photos…

But sir…

Yes, Neil?

Magnificently designed? But sir, I thought all good biologists believed in mindless chance mutations and natural selection to produce complexity.

NOT! They’re designed! Anyway, some of the sprinkled spores land on nice moist soil and germinate into gametophytes…and before you rudely interrupt, a gametophyte is a monoploid plant that reproduces sexually by the union of gametes—and don’t tell me you’re not old enough to know what that means! The green moss plants that we usually associate with mosses are the gametophytes. I won’t go into the sexual process here, but it involves antheridia, archegonia, mitosis and the morning dew.

Sir, you are deliberately avoiding an obviously controversial but important subject!

Perhaps I’m merely teasing the next lecture. Today, we are dealing with spores. To continue, the fertilized eggs grow into the sporophytes you see in the photos. It’s all about what we call “alternation of generations.”

The third photo shows the fertile (spore-bearing) frond of a fern. Same story: the spores will be sprinkled out, land on moist soil and grow into gametophytes, which are really small, so we seldom see them—but that’s another story.

But sir…

I’ll ignore that interruption.

But sir, we want to know about the fourth photo—those flowers—what do they have to do with spores? We thought flowering plants reproduced by means of seeds, not spores.

Excellent thought (for a change). The flowers actually are groups of sporangia (spore-bearing organs). We just call them by different names, just to confuse. In fact, flowers produce two kinds of spores: microspores (small ones) and megaspores (big ones). It’s called heterospory. We call the microspores pollen grains (which contain sperms) and we call the megaspores ovules (which contain eggs). And we call the processes of how they get together pollination and fertilization—another tease for the next lecture.

Pardon another rude interruption, sir, but at the start of your bloviation you said that we were experiencing and even suffering the effects of spores during this spring season…oh, we see it now—that yellow stuff all over our cars is pollen—microspores! And the fact that half of us are blowing our noses and popping allergy pills—now we get it!

I am amazed! But don’t blame the pretty chokecherry blossoms in the photo for your problems—because they’re entomophilous! It’s the anemophilous pollen that yellows your cars and causes hay fever.

Now really, sir…