Pine trees are conifers and carry both male and female sporophylls on the same plant. Like all gymnosperms, pines are heterosporous and produce male microspores and female megaspores. In the male cones, or staminate cones, the microsporocytes give rise to microspores by meiosis. The microspores then develop into pollen grains. Each pollen grain contains two cells: one generative cell that will divide into two sperm, and a second cell that will become the pollen tube cell. In the spring, pine trees release large amounts of yellow pollen, which is carried by the wind. Some gametophytes will land on a female cone. The pollen tube grows from the pollen grain slowly, and the generative cell in the pollen grain divides into two sperm cells by mitosis. One of the sperm cells will finally unite its haploid nucleus with the haploid nucleus of an egg cell in the process of fertilization.
Female cones, or ovulate cones, contain two ovules per scale. One megasporocyte undergoes meiosis in each ovule. Only a single surviving haploid cell will develop into a female multicellular gametophyte that encloses an egg. On fertilization, the zygote will give rise to the embryo, which is enclosed in a seed coat of tissue from the parent plant. Fertilization and seed development is a long process in pine trees—it may take up to two years after pollination. The seed that is formed contains three generations of tissues: the seed coat that originates from the parent plant tissue, the female gametophyte that will provide nutrients, and the embryo itself. Figure 14.20 This image shows the lifecycle of a conifer. illustrates the life cycle of a conifer.
At what stage does the diploid zygote form?
a. when the female cone begins to bud from the tree
b. when the sperm nucleus and the egg nucleus fuse
c. when the seeds drop from the tree
d. when the pollen tube begins to grow
Watch this video(http://openstaxcollege.org/l/gymnosperm)to see the process of seed production in gymnosperms.