In seed plants, the ovule is the structure that gives rise to and contains the female reproductive cells. It consists of three parts: the integument, forming its outer layer, the nucellus (or remnant of the mega sporangium), and the female gametophyte (formed from a haploid megaspore) in its center. The female gametophyte — specifically termed a mega gametophyte— is also called the embryo sac in angiosperms. The mega gametophyte produces an egg cell for the purpose of fertilization. Ovule orientation may be anatropous, such that when inverted the micropyle faces the placenta (this is the most common ovule orientation in flowering plants), amphitropous, campylotropous, or orthotropous (anatropous are common and micro Pyle is in downward position and chalazal end in on the upper position hence, in amphitropous the anatropous arrangement is tilted 90 degrees and in orthotropus it is completely inverted). The ovule appears to be a mega sporangium with integuments surrounding it. Ovules are initially composed of diploid maternal tissue, which includes a megasporocyte (a cell that will undergo meiosis to produce megaspores). Megaspores remain inside the ovule and divide by mitosis to produce the haploid female gametophyte or mega gametophyte, which also remains inside the ovule. The remnants of the mega sporangium tissue (the nucellus) surround the mega gametophyte. Megagametophytes produce archegonia (lost in some groups such as flowering plants), which produce egg cells. After fertilization, the ovule contains a diploid zygote and then, after cell division begins, an embryo of the next sporophyte generation. In flowering plants, a second sperm nucleus fuses with other nuclei in the megagametophyte forming a typically polyploid (often triploid) endosperm tissue, which serves as nourishment for the young sporophyte. An integument is a protective layer of cells surrounding the ovule. Gymnosperms typically have one integument (unitegmic) while angiosperms typically have two integuments (bitegmic). The evolutionary origin of the inner integument (which is integral to the formation of ovules from megasporangia) has been proposed to be by enclosure of a megasporangium by sterile branches (telomes). Elkinsia, a preovulate taxon, has a lobed structure fused to the lower third of the megasporangium, with the lobes extending upwards in a ring around the megasporangium. This might, through fusion between lobes and between the structure and the megasporangium, have produced an integument.

The origin of the second or outer integument has been an area of active contention for some time. The cupules of some extinct taxa have been suggested as the origin of the outer integument. A few angiosperms produce vascular tissue in the outer integument, the orientation of which suggests that the outer surface is morphologically abaxial. This suggests that cupules of the kind produced by the Caytoniales or Glossopteridales may have evolved into the outer integument of angiosperms. The integuments develop into the seed coat when the ovule matures after fertilization. The integuments do not enclose the nucellus completely but retain an opening at the apex referred to as the micropyle. The micropyle opening allows the pollen (a male gametophyte) to enter the ovule for fertilization. In gymnosperms (e.g., conifers), the pollen is drawn into the ovule on a drop of fluid that exudes out of the micropyle, the so-called pollination drop mechanism. Subsequently, the micropyle closes. In angiosperms, only a pollen tube enters the micropyle. During germination, the seedling's radicle emerges through the micropyle. Located opposite from the micropyle is the chalaza where the nucellus is joined to the integuments. Nutrients from the plant travel through the phloem of the vascular system to the funiculus and outer integument and from there apoplastically and symplastically through the chalaza to the nucellus inside the ovule. In chalazogamous plants, the pollen tubes enter the ovule through the chalaza instead of the micropyle opening.


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