Of the three cells at the micropylar end of the sac, all naked cells (the so-called egg-apparatus), one is the egg-cell or oosphere, the other two, which may be regarded as representing abortive egg-cells (in rare cases capable Of fertilization), are known as synergidae.
The megaspore-nucleus divides repeatedly, and cells are produced from the peripheral region inwards, which eventually fill the sporecavity with a homogeneous tissue (prothallus); some of the superficial cells at the micropylar end of the megaspore increase in size and divide by a tangential wall into two, an upper cell which gives rise to the short two-celled neck of the archegonium, and a lower cell which develops into a large egg-cell.
By further growth this tissue gives rise to a proembryo, which consists, at the micropylar end, of a sac; the tissue at the chalazal end grows into a long and tangled suspensor, terminating in a mass of cells, which is eventually differentiated into a radicle, plumule and two cotyledons.
In Ephedra helvetica, as described by Jaccard, no proembryo or suspensor is formed; but the most vigorous fertilized egg, after undergoing several divisions, becomes attached to a tissue, termed the columella, which serves the purpose of a primary suspensor; the columella appears to be formed by the lignification of certain cells in the central region of the embryo-sac. At a later stage some of the cells in the upper (micropylar) end of the embryo divide and undergo considerable elongation, serving the purpose of a secondary suspensor.
M, Micropylar crevice.
This is the first case in which the pollen-bearing organs of a Ptoridosperm have been identified with certainty It will be seen that, while the seeds of Lyginodendron were of an advanced Cycadean type, the microsporangiate organs were more like those of a Fern, the reproductive organs thus showing the same combination of characters which appears in the vegetative ct pc. A, Micropylar region.