The complete sequence of events undergone by organisms of a particular species from the fusion of gametes in one generation to the same stage in the following generation. In most animals gametes are formed by meiosis of germ cells in the reproductive organs of the parents. The zygote, formed by the fusion of two gametes, eventually develops into an organism essentially similar to the parents. In plants, however, the products of meiosis are spores, which develop into plants (the gametophyte generation) often very different in form from the spore-forming (sporophyte) generation. The sporophyte generation is restored when gametes, formed by the gametophyte generation, fuse. See alternation of generations.
Subjects: Biological Sciences.