C-Fern Express

A rapidly developing C-Fern strain can improve studies of plant life cycles and development.

C-Fern Express is a select strain of an uncommon fern, Ceratopteris. It was derived by Dr. Les Hickok from two Japanese varieties of C. thalictroides that exhibited very rapid sporophyte development. Its novel features and very rapid development time make it superb for teaching, especially plant life cycles and Alternation of Generations.

The ease, economy, and simplicity of culturing C-Fern Express make it an ideal organism both for structured laboratories and student-directed independent research projects involving life cycles and development. The C-Fern Manual and growing instructions available at the website, www.c-fern.org, provide ample background information and literature citations to facilitate student research projects.

Features of C-Fern Express

  • Wide application and appeal for grades 7 – 12 and college-level biology
  • Simple and economical set up by teacher or students, culture requires only a 15W fluorescent bulb and simple culture container
  • Rapid life cycle from spores to sexually mature gametophytes in 10 days; from fertilization to fertile sporophytes with viable spores in 55 days
  • Two distinct sexual types  differentiation of male and hermaphrodite gametophytes controlled by a chemical signal, i.e. pheromone
  • Contained and controlled hundreds of gametophytes and young sporophytes cultured on nutrient agar in Petri dishes; mature sporophytes grown in 16 oz plastic bottles
  • Instructive students explore a broad spectrum of biological principles and learn basic aseptic culture techniques
  • Adaptable – from teacher demonstrations to student-initiated learning
  • Visible – with a low power microscope, students watch the release of masses of swimming sperm, their attraction to eggs and early embryo development