The hornworts are a group of small plants that are very little known. So much so that for many years they were part of the group of loas bryophytes. However, recent studies have shown that these plants have structures that are closer to those found in current plants and that, in addition, they are genetically related to higher plants. And it is that hornworms present the perfect fusion between a gametophyte and a sporophyte. With more than 300 species distributed throughout the world, hornbills are plants that seek humidity and warm temperatures, as well as nearby sources of water for optimal growth.
In this AgroCorrn article, we explain in more detail what hornworms are, their characteristics and examples , as well as their importance within the environment of our planet.
- What are hornworms
- Characteristics of hornworts
- Examples of hornworms
- Importance of hornworms
What are hornworms
The anthoceros (Anthoceros) belong to one of the three divisions of bryophyte plants, specifically the Anthocerotophyta. The other two divisions within the Bryophyta are liver plants and mosses . All of them are commonly known collectively as non-vascular plants .
Specifically, hornworts are distinguished by having a flattened, leaf-shaped body, usually elongated and cylindrical. You can find them all over the planet, but they tend to thrive more in tropical habitats, since they are plants that need humid and shady environments .
However, these small plants clearly differentiate themselves from other mosses, ferns and other liverworts, thanks to the fact that their plant cells have a single chloroplast per cell, just the opposite of the other divisions within non-vascular plants. , which do have several chloroplasts per cell. In the same way, anthoceras also have unicellular rhizoids, hair-like filaments, which perform a structural function to keep the plant fixed.
To learn more details about this topic, we also advise you to know the Bryophyte Plants: examples and characteristics .
Characteristics of hornworts
These are the main characteristics of hornworts :
- They have a dorsiventrally flattened thallus that usually forms rosettes. The thalli of anthoceras are composed of thin-walled cells, which adhere to the substrate by means of smooth rhizoids.
- It is common to see colonies of algae on the thallus, forming a symbiosis of the hornworts.
- The habitat of the hornworts is located in humid and shady environments, typical of the subtropical and tropical regions. They can be from in mountainous areas to on the banks of rivers, although they can adapt to hot climates, but they do not support frost.
- The reproduction of hornworms can be sexual and asexual. In the case of sexual reproduction, the spores are formed by meiosis from haploid cells. These develop within the capsule until they mature and are released. It will be the wind and the rain that spread them until they anchor with the substrate. It is the same type of reproduction used by horsetails and club mosses. Instead, asexual reproduction occurs through mitosis detaching a part of the thallus to give rise to a new individual identical to the parent.
Examples of hornworms
Below, we have made a list of the most important families within the classification of these plants in order to complete a list rich in classes and species of hornworts :
Within the Anthocerotaceae family we find more than 120 species already identified. This class of hornwort is characterized by the shape the sporangium takes and by the dark color of its spores.
Another of the non-vascular plant genera belonging to the hornwort with more than 40 identified species. Hornbills of this type are located, mainly on the Asian continent. In addition, the gametophytic thallus has small yellowish-green ramifications and reaches a maximum of 3 centimeters in length.
A genus of hornworts belonging to the Dendrocerotaceae family, typical of eastern North America, South America, and New Zealand. So far, of the more than 16 species cataloged, only half are officially recognized.
Importance of hornworms
They perform an important ecological function in the forests where they live:
- They help create a richer environment for the growth of other species and prevent water stress from being created.
- The hornworts help prevent soil erosion thanks to their adherent and fixing properties that help it not to come off.
- They improve environmental quality thanks to their production in large quantities of both carbon and nitrogen.
- In addition, they give shelter to many animal species, such as small invertebrates, and are a source of food for other species, both vertebrates and invertebrates.
- Hornbills have begun to be used as indicators of mineral arsenal for the creation of peat. In the same way, they are also used as bioindicators to measure water pollution , to stop excess moisture for the growth of some types of seeds and to provide oxygen while beautifying many aquariums and, in fact, some fish leave in they their eggs.
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