General Question

Pandora's avatar

Which came first, the plant or the seed?

Asked by Pandora (29652points) August 3rd, 2012

I was thinking of a phrase people often get wrong. Which is you reap what you sow. Too often I hear people say it in reverse. But the truth is that the seeds you grow will produce seeds that can be weak and produce a bad crop.
Its kind of like, what came first, the chicken or the egg?
So it got me wondering. How is it possible we have so many variations of plants that produce seeds? I saw a documentary one day that showed a desert valley come to life with hundreds of variations of plants after a few seasons of rain. They figured seeds where in hibernation until the rain came back to the desert.

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9 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Seeds are gametes and not organisms of their own, so seed-bearing plants probably evolved from simpler plant-like organisms. So the plant came first.

Qingu's avatar

Plants. Ferns do not produce seeds. (They reproduce with spores.) Ferns evolved earlier than seed-bearing plants.

Why are there so many different kinds of seed-bearing plants? Well, the short answer is that it’s a good way to go about reproducing. Seeds store nutrients and protect young plants; they can also offer “transportation” to new soil. That’s a good basis for reproduction, better than spores in many cases—so seed-bearing plants end up reproducing more often than other kinds of plants. More reproduction means more chances for genetic mutations to survive, more evolution, and thus more diversity.

TexasDude's avatar

@Qingu good point about spore-producing plants. I didn’t even think of that.

LostInParadise's avatar

It still leaves open the questions of which came first between the seed and the seed plant and also which came first between the spore and the spore plant. There were of course plants that came came before spores, like plant bacteria and algae, but it still leaves both questions open.

Qingu's avatar

Well, the answer to all of your questions is that there is an evolutionary transition at work.

There are photosynthetic single-celled algae that form colonies that act somewhat like a larger, multicellular organism. Kelp is the next stage from single-cell to multicellular. Land plants evolved from algae-like organisms as well.

The transition from spore to seed involves organisms called “protogymnosperms.” I have to admit that I find plants kinda boring so I’ll outsource this one to a website I found that seems legit:

Pandora's avatar

@Qingu They may be boring but without them where would we be? But then it goes into air and water and so on and so on.

LostInParadise's avatar

What is there to say about organisms that are so inert that their sex lives are mediated by wind or by insects?

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mattbrowne's avatar


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