Bryophytes are a very diverse group of ancient land plants, which in the tree of life can be placed between green algae and vascular plants. They are divided into 3 groups: Bryophyta (mosses), Hepatophyta (liverworts), and Anthocerotophyta (hornworts).
Like green algae and vascular plants they use chlorophyll to perform photosynthesis, and like vascular plants they have developed leaves and stems.
Yet bryophytes differ in many ways from vascular plants: they are dispersed by spores instead of seeds, have not developed water- and food- conducting systems, and lack roots. Their life cycle differs significantly from that of vascular plants in that the sporophyte is very small (in vascular plants this is the actual plant), the gametophyte is the actual plant visible with the naked eye (the gametophyte in vascular plants is reduced).
Most bryophytes are found in humid places, however, they can endure periods of drought by drying out and becoming dormant. When conditions become wetter again, they can take up water rapidly and resume photosynthesis.
Editor: Frauke Ziemmeck.
Other Contributors: Miguel Cueva, Ricardo Escobedo, S. Robbert Gradstein, Pablo Izquierdo, Mery Juiña, Ondina Landázuri, Ruth Llumiquinga, Leila López, Ximena Palomeque, Eliana Ramírez, Diego Reyes, Francisco Tobar, Adolfo Verdugo, William A. Weber.
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