- • The extent to which macro- and micromorphological features might contribute to tolerance of extremely deep shade by Trichomanes speciosum, a member of the filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae), is reported here.
- • Confocal laser scanning, transmission and scanning electron microscopy were used to study the ultrastructure of gametophytes and sporophyte leaves.
- • Gametophyte filament cells contain numerous small, spherical or ovoid chloroplasts, whereas sporophyte leaf cells have fewer, slightly larger, disc-shaped chloroplasts. The chloroplast grana of gametophytic cells have fewer thylakoids than sporophyte cells, although grana are not numerous in either. Gametophyte filament cell walls resemble those of sporophyte leaf cells, with two or more layers of electron-opaque material and covered in a thin cuticle. Gemma cell wall ultrastructure does not differ from that of gametophyte filament cells; rhizoid cell walls are thick and several-layered.
- • Neither gametophyte filaments nor sporophyte leaves have chloroplasts of the extreme forms reported for deep shade fern or angiosperm leaves. The success of the fern is attributed to a low metabolic rate and inability of other species to cope with extreme low light.