Question Video: Differentiating between Vascular and Nonvascular Plants Biology

Organisms in the kingdom Plantae can be further classified based on their characteristics. Which of the following statements correctly describes the difference between vascular and nonvascular plants? [A] Vascular plants have distinct, specialized structures to transport food, minerals, and water, whereas nonvascular plants do not. [B] Nonvascular plants have distinct, specialized structures to transport food, minerals, and water, whereas vascular plants do not.

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Video Transcript

Organisms in the kingdom Plantae can be further classified based on their characteristics. Which of the following statements correctly describes the difference between vascular and nonvascular plants? (A) Vascular plants have distinct, specialized structures to transport food, minerals, and water, whereas nonvascular plants do not. Or (B) nonvascular plants have distinct, specialized structures to transport food, minerals, and water, whereas vascular plants do not.

Let’s begin by understanding how organisms are classified in biology. We organize them into different tiered groups based on characteristics and evolutionary relationships, in a process called taxonomy. One of the largest and broadest taxonomic groups is the kingdom. And it is commonly accepted that all living things can be grouped into one of five kingdoms according to shared characteristics: Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia.

For this question, we will focus on kingdom Plantae, which consists of around 400,000 species. Kingdom Plantae can be subdivided into two main groups: vascular plants and nonvascular plants. To answer this question, we are looking for the main difference between these two groups.

Nonvascular plants are sometimes referred to as Bryophyta, and they include organisms like mosses. These plants do not have complex or specialized vascular tissues. Vascular plants are sometimes referred to as Tracheophyta. These plants do have specialized vascular tissues, which are cells joined together into a network of tubes called the xylem and the phloem.

The xylem is used to transport water and mineral ions from the roots to the rest of the plant. The phloem transports food, like sugars and amino acids, mainly from the leaves, where most of them are produced, both up and down the plant, to all the cells that might require them.

If we look back at the answer options, we now know that the correct choice is answer (A). Vascular plants have distinct, specialized structures to transport food, minerals, and water, whereas nonvascular plants do not.

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