Reproduction systems are some of the most interesting and diverse biological systems available for study by the scientific community. Determining how plants, animals and other organisms reproduce often provides key insight into their qualities and characteristics. One of the most interesting reproductive systems in the world is the system within vascular plants. Unlike humans, which have a comparably straightforward method of reproduction, vascular plants boast a much more intricate reproductive process.
In humans, the reproductive cycle is well documented. It requires one female and one male to contribute an egg specimen and sperm specimen, respectively. Only after the egg and sperm have united is the new genetic code complete, and a new human can begin to grow. This type of reproduction is called sexual reproduction. Vascular plants are also capable of this type of reproduction. Instead of eggs and sperm, however, plants have carpels and stamens. Stamens produce pollen, which act as the equivalent to sperm. Bugs or wind then carry the pollen to new plants, where the genetic material enters the plant’s carpel. Once they are united, the plant can begin to produce seeds for a new generation.
Sexual reproduction, however, is not the sole way that vascular plants reproduce. While sexual reproduction requires two genetic donors, asexual reproduction – the other avenue for plant reproduction – requires only one. This method of reproduction does not produce a genetically different plant. When plants practice asexual reproduction, they are essentially making a copy of their DNA. Individual cells on these plants are capable of producing entirely new generations. Plants do this by sending out special stems that can develop new plants. With asexual reproduction, plants either already posses both sets of needed DNA or develop asexual organs to contribute to reproduction. Humans, on the other hand, have absolutely no means of asexual reproduction. Even when humans are born with abnormal reproductive organ structures that include both male and female genitalia (such as with intersex situations), they are incapable of asexual reproduction. The only way mankind has been able to emulate asexual reproduction is through cloning experiments.