In ferns, the sporophyte is the most obvious plant, the gametophyte being inconspicuous. The gametophyte forms a small, heart-shaped prothallus. This produces both male and female gametes. The sperm need water to swim through to reach the ova, so these gametophytes tend to grow mainly in moist environments. Prothalli cultures take time to grow, and may vary in age from two to eight months, exhibiting various stages from early spore germination, through young prothallia formation to the sporophyte commencing to grow on the gametophyte.
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