The Bryophyta and Pteridophyta have sprung from the higher Thallophyta, and together form the larger group Archegoniatae, so-called from the form of the organ (archegonium) in which the egg-cell is developed.
It is possible, however, that the tetraspore formation should be regarded as comparable with the prolific vegetative reproduction of Bryophyta, and in favour of this view there is the fact that the tetraspores originate on the thallus in a different way from carpospores with which the spores of Bryophyta are in the first place to be compared; moreover, in certain Nemalionales the production of tetraspores does not occur, and the difficulty referred to does not arise in such cases.
It much more resembles the antherozoids of Bryophyta and certain Pteridophyta than any known among other algae.
Considering, however, that it is generally believed that Bryophyta and vascular plants are descended from an algal ancestry, it is natural to suppose that, prior to the luxuriant vegetable growths of the Carboniferous period, there must have existed an age of algae.
While the spore of Bryophyta on germination gives rise to the sexual plant, the carpospore of the alga may give rise on germination to a plant bearing a second sort of asexual cells, viz.
Upon the evidence it would seem therefore that so far as Nemalion is concerned an alternation occurs comparable with that existing in the lower Bryophyta where the sporophyte is relatively small, being attached to and to some extent parasitic upon the gametophyte.
In illustration of the indirect response, the evolution of the Bryophyta and of more highly organized plants may be briefly considered.
On the one hand from the Bryophyta (in which the sporophyte is throughout its life attached to the gametophyte), and on the other hand from the Gymnosperms and Angiosperms (in which the more or less reduced gametophyte remains enclosed within the tissues of the sporophyte).
The Gymnosperms, with the Angiosperms, constitute the existing groups of seed-bearing plants or Phanerogams: the importance of the seed as a distinguishing feature in the plant kingdom may be emphasized by the use of the designation Spermophyta for these two groups, in contrast to the Pteridophyta and Bryophyta in which true seeds are unknown.
Fungi Algae Bryophyta Pteridophyta Phanerogamia Gymnosperms Angiosperms Algae in this wide sense may be briefly described as the aggregate of those simpler forms of plant life usually devoid, like the rest of the Thallophyta, of differentiation into root, stem and leaf; but, unlike other Thallophyta, possessed of a colouring matter;.