Matrotrophy is a form of development in which the embryo is supplied with additional nutrition from the mother (e.g. through a placenta). This can be contrasted with lecithotrophy, in which the only source of nutrition for the embryo is yolk originally contained within its egg.
In plant sciences, matrotrophy (maternal care) is considered a critical innovation preceding the origin of embryophytes and thus essential to the evolution of land plants. Matrotrophy is facilitated by cytological and ultrastructural modifications on one or both sides of the generational junction, a region called the placenta. Specialization of the placental cells pertains further to their cytological and ultrastructural characteristics: the cytoplasm is often dense and rich in lipids, the vacuole is typically reduced but large in Sphagnum, the endoplasmic reticulum extensive, mitochondria numerous and large, chloroplasts numerous, often less differentiated, rich in lipid-filled globuli and sometimes filled with starch.
- Graham LKE, Wilcox LW. 2000. The origin of alternation of generations in land plants: a focus on matrotrophy and hexose transport. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London B355. 757-67.
- Ligrone R, Duckett JG, Renzaglia KS. 1993. The gametophyte-sporophyte junction in land plants. Advances in botanical research 19. 231-317.
- Goffinet B, Et al. 2009. Morphology and classification of Bryophyta. In Bryophyte Biology 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.
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