Reproductive cell capable of developing into a new individual without fusing with another reproductive cell. Spores thus differ from gametes, which must fuse in pairs in order to create a new individual. Spores are agents of nonsexual reproduction; gametes are agents of sexual reproduction. Spores are produced by bacteria, fungi (see fungus), and green plants. Bacterial spores serve largely as a resting, or dormant, stage in the life cycle, preserving the bacterium through periods of unfavorable conditions. Many bacterial spores are highly durable and can germinate even after years of dormancy. Fungal spores serve a function similar to that of seeds in plants; they germinate and grow into new individuals under suitable conditions of moisture, temperature, and food availability. Among green plants (all of which have a life cycle characterized by alternation of generations), spores are the reproductive agents of the nonsexual generation (sporophyte), giving rise to the sexual generation (gametophyte).
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