A microsporangium (plural microsporangia) is a sporangium that produces spores that give rise to male gametophytes. Microsporangia are notable in spikemosses, and a minority of ferns. In gymnosperms and angiosperms (flowering plants), the microsporangia produce the microsporocyte, also known as the microspore mother cell, which then creates four microspores through meiosis. The microspores divide through mitosis to create pollen grains. The term is not used for bryophytes.
Development of pollen sacs
A very young anther consists of actively dividing meristematic cells surrounded by a layer of epidermis. It then becomes two-lobed. Each anther lobe develops two pollen sacs. Thus, a two-lobed anther develops four pollen sacs situated at four corners of the anther. Development of pollen sacs begins with the differentiation of archesporial cells in the hypodermal region below epidermis at four corners of the young anther. The archesporial cells divide by periclinal division to give a subepidermal primary parietal layer and a primary sporogenous layer. The cells of the primary parietal layer divide by successive periclinal and anticlinal divisions to form concentric layers of pollen sac wall. The wall layers from periphery to centre consist of:
- A single layer of epidermis between, which becomes stretched and shrivels off at maturity
- A single layer of endothecium. The cells of endothecium possess fibrous thickenings. They remain thin-walled and constitute stomium (line of dehiscence) in the shallow groove in between the two microsporangia of the anther lobe
- One to three middle layers. Cells of these layers generally disintegrate in the mature anther
- A single layer of tapetum. The tapetal cells may be uni-, bi- or multinucleate and possess dense cytoplasm. The cells of the primary sporogenous layer divide further and give rise to diploid sporogenous tissue.
- Antheridia, haploid structures that gives rise to male gametes; present on the gametophytes of bryophytes, ferns, and many algae, as well as water moulds and some fungi