Complex sporoderm structure in bryophyte spores: a palynological study of Erpodiaceae Broth.

ABSTRACT Palynological studies of bryophytes are critical for evaluating the taxonomic relevance of their spores. They also provide important support to paleoecological investigations that, usually, treat bryophytes as a whole, which does not permit the evaluation of specific functional traits of a special taxonomic unit. The present study investigated the morphology and ultrastructure of spores of five species of Erpodiaceae (Bryophyta), and assessed the implications for taxonomy and the recognition of spores of past records. Erpodiaceae includes corticolous and saxicolous plants that are widely distributed throughout tropical and temperate regions. The spores were found to be isomorphic and apolar with a subcircular amb, granulate, inaperturate. The sporoderm possesses a perine, an exine and a stratified intine. The perine is largely responsible for spore surface ornamentation. The occurrence of exine projections, in isolation or sustaining the elements of the perine, characterizes sporoderm structure with features similar to that of a semitectum, a distinctive characteristic that has not been reported previously for bryophyte spores.