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A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering known as the seed coat.
It is a characteristic of spermatophytes (gymnosperm and angiosperm plants) and the product of the ripened ovule which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant. The formation of the seed completes the process of reproduction in seed plants (started with the development of flowers and pollination), with the embryo developed from the zygote and the seed coat from the integuments of the ovule.
Seeds have been an important development in the reproduction and spread of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants, relative to more primitive plants such as ferns, mosses and liverworts, which do not have seeds and use other means to propagate themselves. This can be seen by the success of seed plants (both gymnosperms and angiosperms) in dominating biological niches on land, from forests to grasslands both in hot and cold climates.
The term "seed" also has a general meaning that antedates the above—anything that can be sown, e.g. "seed" potatoes, "seeds" of corn or sunflower "seeds". In the case of sunflower and corn "seeds", what is sown is the seed enclosed in a shell or husk, whereas the potato is a tuber.
Many structures commonly referred to as "seeds" are actually dry fruits. Plants producing berries are called baccate. Sunflower seeds are sometimes sold commercially while still enclosed within the hard wall of the fruit, which must be split open to reach the seed. Different groups of plants have other modifications, the so-called stone fruits (such as the peach) have a hardened fruit layer (the endocarp) fused to and surrounding the actual seed. Nuts are the one-seeded, hard-shelled fruit of some plants with an indehiscent seed, such as an acorn or hazelnut.
Seeds are produced in several related groups of plants, and their manner of production distinguishes the angiosperms ("enclosed seeds") from the gymnosperms ("naked seeds"). Angiosperm seeds are produced in a hard or fleshy structure called a fruit that encloses the seeds, hence the name. (Some fruits have layers of both hard and fleshy material). In gymnosperms, no special structure develops to enclose the seeds, which begin their development "naked" on the bracts of cones. However, the seeds do become covered by the cone scales as they develop in some species of conifer.
Seed production in natural plant populations vary widely from year-to-year in response to weather variables, insects and diseases, and internal cycles within the plants themselves. Over a 20-year period, for example, forests composed of loblolly pine and shortleaf pine produced from 0 to nearly 5 million sound pine seeds per hectare.[1] Over this period, there were six bumper, five poor, and nine good seed crops, when evaluated in regard to producing adequate seedlings for natural forest reproduction.
Angiosperm (flowering plants) seeds consist of three genetically distinct constituents: (1) the embryo formed from the zygote, (2) the endosperm, which is normally triploid, (3) the seed coat from tissue derived from the maternal tissue of the ovule. In angiosperms, the process of seed development begins with double fertilization, which involves the fusion of two male gametes with the egg cell and the central cell to form the primary endosperm and the zygote. Right after fertilization, the zygote is mostly inactive, but the primary endosperm divides rapidly to form the endosperm tissue. This tissue becomes the food the young plant will consume until the roots have developed after germination.
Main article: Ovule
After fertilization the ovules develop into the seeds. The ovule consists of a number of components:
The funicle (funiculus, funiculi) or seed stalk which attaches the ovule to the placenta and hence ovary or fruit wall, at the pericarp.
The nucellus, the remnant of the megasporangium and main region of the ovule where the megagametophyte develops.
The micropyle, a small pore or opening in the apex of the integument of the ovule where the pollen tube usually enters during the process of fertilization.
The chalaza, the base of the ovule opposite the micropyle, where integument and nucellus are joined together).[2]
The shape of the ovules as they develop often affects the final shape of the seeds. Plants generally produce ovules of four shapes: the most common shape is called anatropous, with a curved shape. Orthotropous ovules are straight with all the parts of the ovule lined up in a long row producing an uncurved seed. Campylotropous ovules have a curved megagametophyte often giving the seed a tight "C" shape. The last ovule shape is called amphitropous, where the ovule is partly inverted and turned back 90 degrees on its stalk (the funicle or funiculus).中种网



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