C-Fern is an excellent tool for use in independent student research. Projects can be completely independent of the normal classroom activities or may be integrated with group exercises. Principal goals of independent research are to stimulate students' interest in the subject by encouraging them to formulate questions and subsequently to design appropriate experiments that can provide answers to those questions. This directly involves students in the process of science. Perhaps the most important task of the teacher in this situation is that of giving helpful but minimal advice and guidance in order to avoid a level of frustration that can dampen students' initial enthusiasm or willingness to undertake a project.

 

  • How do sperm find the archegonium?
  • Can sperm respond chemotactically to artificial (chemical) signals?
  • How do gametophytes limit fertilization to one and rarely two events?
  • What happens to gametophytes after a fertilization event?
  • What are the patterns of cell division and expansion that yield the heart-shape of the hermaphrodite?
  • How long will unfertilized gametophytes live?
  • Other than using a bioassay, what approach could you use to show that a chemical substance was responsible for controlling development of sexual types in C-Fern?
  • Do all gametophytes secret the pheromone?
  • When are gametophytes sensitive to the pheromone?
  • Can you design a bioassay to detect other agents that control development?
  • Can you think of any advantage of controlling the sex ratio in the cultures?
  • How could one determine if there was a genetic difference that controlled sexual type in gametophytes?
  • How could you test the relative fitness of different genotypes; e.g., wild type versus polka dot?
  • How do higher densities result in more males within a population?
  • How do changing proportions of males influence the kinds of mating that can occur?
  • Can sporophytes form without fertilization?
  • Can gametophytes develop directly from sporophyte tissue?
  • What role does the meristem play in maintaining the hermaphroditic gametophyte?
  • Can sporophytes develop normally if the young embryo within the archegonium is cut away from the gametophyte?
  • What affect on development is caused by adding sucrose to the medium?
  • What is the difference between vegetative and fertile leaves on sporophytes?
  • Do rhizoids respond to the direction of gravity?
  • Do gametophytes show a phototropic response?
  • Do sporophytes show a phototropic response?
  • Does gametophyte growth and development respond to different wavelengths of light?
  • Do rhizoids have a specific function?
  • If a meristem is surgically removed, will a new one form? What factors could influence this?
  • Is distance between gametophytes important during their sexual development?