The Fern Sporangium: A Unique Catapult

  title={The Fern Sporangium: A Unique Catapult},
  author={Xavier Noblin and N. O. Rojas and Jared Westbrook and Coraline Llorens and M{\'e}d{\'e}ric Argentina and Jacques Dumais},
  pages={1322 - 1322}
High-speed observations reveal how rapid changes in cell shape powerfully eject fern spores. Various plants and fungi have evolved ingenious devices to disperse their spores. One such mechanism is the cavitation-triggered catapult of fern sporangia. The spherical sporangia enclosing the spores are equipped with a row of 12 to 13 specialized cells, the annulus. When dehydrating, these cells induce a dramatic change of curvature in the sporangium, which is released abruptly after the cavitation… 

The fern cavitation catapult: mechanism and design principles

This work study in detail the three phases of spore ejection in the sporangia of the fern Polypodium aureum, highlighting the importance of the precise tuning of the parameters without which the function of the leptosporangium as a catapult would be severely compromised.

Documenting the Sporangium Development of the Polypodiales Fern Pteris multifida

The sporangium development improved in this work will be useful for a general understanding of fern spore formation.

Seed ejection mechanism in an Oxalis species

With millions of years’ evolution, plants and fungi have developed a variety of ballistic dispersal structures for seeds or spores. One typical example is the catapult of an Oxalis sp., which can

Autochory in ferns, not all spores are blown with the wind

The growth habit of A. celtibericum is instrumental to deposit the spores over the neighbouring rock surface, thus enhancing the probability of spores to find suitable crevices for germination and the modified sporangial opening mechanism extends the dispersive period.

Modes of deformation of walled cells.

  • J. Dumais
  • Biology
    Journal of experimental botany
  • 2013
In this review, a first classification of the different modes of surface deformation used by walled cells is attempted: inextensional bending, equi-area shear, elastic stretching, processive intussusception, and chemorheological growth.

Sporangium Exposure and Spore Release in the Peruvian Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum peruvianum, Pteridaceae)

This work investigated the different processes involved in spore liberation in the polypod fern Adiantum peruvianum (Pteridaceae), and found that the whole sporangium, or parts of it, together with contained spores break away from the false indusium and are shed as a whole.

The walk and jump of Equisetum spores

Observations of the ‘walks’ and ‘jumps’ of Equisetum spores, which are novel types of spore locomotion mechanisms compared to the ones of other spores, conveys biomimetic inspiration for a new class of self-propelled objects.

Morphomechanical Innovation Drives Explosive Seed Dispersal

Mechanics modelling of fern cavitation catapult

Cavitation is often regarded as a failure mode in soft materials. An intriguing phenomenon has been recently discovered that fern sporangium can take advantage of drying-induced cavitation

Insights into the microstructures of hygroscopic movement in plant seed dispersal.

  • R. ElbaumYael Abraham
  • Environmental Science
    Plant science : an international journal of experimental plant biology
  • 2014



The Spore Discharge Mechanism of Common Ferns.

  • A. L. King
  • Education
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1944
Among ferns the Polypodiaceae are most common and are highly developed. In this family the mature sporangium, rather uniformly, is a flattened obovoid capsule supported on a long pedicel (P, Fig. 1).

Surface tension propulsion of fungal spores

A detailed mechanical analysis of the three stages of spore ejection is performed and an explicit relation for the conversion of surface energy into kinetic energy during the coalescence process is developed.

Determination of the Pore Size of Cell Walls of Living Plant Cells

Results indicate that molecules with diameters larger than these pores would be restricted in their ability to penetrate such a cell wall, and that such a wall may represent a more significant barrier to cellular communication than has been previously assumed.

Dynamics of poroelastic filaments

  • J. SkotheimL. Mahadevan
  • Engineering
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
  • 2004
We investigate the stability and geometrically nonlinear dynamics of slender rods made of a linear isotropic poroelastic material. Dimensional reduction leads to the evolution equation for the shape

The Acoustic Detection of Cavitation in Fern Sporangia

Cavitation of water in the annular cells of fern sporangia was monitored simultaneously by acoustic detection and visual analysis using a light microscope to study the response of water to evaporation.


  • Planta
  • 1954

J. Exp. Bot

  • J. Exp. Bot
  • 1990

J. Exp. Biol

  • J. Exp. Biol
  • 2009