Among land plants, lower vascular plants produce the most elaborate of all male gametes. in order to characterize the degree of variability in sperm cell architecture among ferns, this scanning electron microscope study was undertaken on three highly disparate genera: Ceratopteris(a derived leptosporangiate fern) Angiopteris(a derived eusporangiate fern) and Psilotum(a putatively basal eusporangiate fern).
Mature gametophytes were placed in 0.01M phosphate buffer (pH ca. 7.2) or distilled water until spermatozoids were released. Gametophyte portions were removed and the spermatozoid suspension fixed with 2% glutaraldehyde in 0.05M phosphate buffer. Post-fixation utilized 1% aqueous osmium tetroxide for lhr, followed by rinsing and dehydration in ethanol (10 min @ 25, 50, 75 and 100%). The dehydrated pellet was suspended in 100% hexamethyldisilazane, immediately centrifuged and the pellet deposited onto clean glass coverslips. Specimens were dried at 60°C, sputtered with ca. 350 A of palladium/gold and imaged in a Hitachi S570 SEM.