Zygote: Definition, Stages, and Diagram

  • Reading time:7 mins read

Table of Contents

Zygote Definition

A fertilised eukaryotic cell is referred to as a zygote. The term “zygote” is used in biology, medicine, and other related professions, including psychology, to refer to a cell that arises after the union of sex cells (also called gametes). Male and female gametes are involved in sexual reproduction. The male gamete in humans is the sperm cell, while the female gamete is the ovum (also called egg cell).

They’re both haploid (n). Their union will produce a diploid (2n) zygote through a process known as fertilisation. After that, the newly formed single cell goes through a series of mitotic divisions and develops into a multicellular form. The cells that erupted from the zygote will essentially have the same genetic composition throughout the body, but as they are organised into tissues, organs, and systems, they will eventually acquire a unique purpose or function.

What is Zygote?

Zygote is derived from the Greek zugtos, which means “attached,” and zugoun, which means “to connect.” After fertilisation, the human zygote develops into an embryo and begins to divide.

The pronuclei of male and female gametes have not yet joined in the above image. The extranuclear genome is stored in the cytoplasm of the ovum, which contains cytoplasmic organelles such as mitochondria. A layer of extracellular matrix termed zona pellucida surrounds the cell (a protective outer membrane). Take note of the circular structures tangential to the longitudinal axis at the periphery. The polar bodies produced by the second meiotic division are known as polar bodies.

Zygote and Gamete

In biology, the terms “gamete” and “zygote” are interchangeable. They are both cells. They should not, however, be used interchangeably because their meanings are vastly different. The nucleus of a gamete and a zygote differ in the number of chromosomal sets they contain. Gametes are the result of gametogenesis, which includes the meiosis process. Male gametogenesis (also known as spermatogenesis) is responsible for the production of sperm cells, whereas female gametogenesis is responsible for the production of egg cells (called oogenesis). Both of these methods result in haploid sex cells.

A cell that possesses half of the chromosomes of a typical non-sex cell of the organism is referred to as haploid. Human gametes, for example, have 23 chromosomes, while non-sex cells (somatic cells) have 46. It should be noted, however, that in humans, the final stage of oogenesis occurs during fertilisation. In the absence of fertilisation, the female gamete will not complete oogenesis and will not reach maturity. Instead, during menstruation, it disintegrates and is expelled.

Gametogenesis produces gametes, while zygogenesis produces zygotes, which are formed by the fusion of male and female gametes. When a sperm cell successfully enters an egg cell, a sequence of events occurs, including plasmogamy (the merging of the cytoplasms) and karyogamy (i.e. the union of the nuclei). As a result, the cell now has twice as many chromosomes. Diploidy is the term for this condition. For reproductive reasons, gametes are essentially haploid. The chromosomal set of the gametes must be reduced by half so that the integrity of the chromosomal set can be maintained through generations when the gametes unite at fertilisation.

The zygote in certain plants can have more than two sets of chromosomes. Polyploidy is the term for this situation. The zygote can then reproduce asexually in unicellular organisms to generate progeny.

Zygote vs Embryo

A fertilised cell is referred to as a zygote. A zygote is a single cell with a nucleus made up of chromosomes from both parents, despite the fact that it is the result of two cells coming together. The zygote stage appears to be the earliest step in multicellular eukaryote formation. The zygote stage in humans begins on Day 1 of week one after conception and lasts until the cell cleaves into two new cells. The embryo stage follows, which is marked by the development of the embryo (embryogenesis). The embryo stage is defined as the first eight weeks after conception in humans.

Zygote, Zygote Definition, What is Zygote, What is a Zygote, Zygote Diagram, 1

An embryo is a biological form made up of numerous cells that develop from a zygote that has gone through a sequence of mitoses and will eventually produce a set of tubes. The cells in humans undergo vast and fast proliferation during the first week after conception. They eventually form a solid clump of cells termed a morula as they continue to proliferate. This mass of cells will form a sphere with discrete layers (the outer trophoblast layer and the interior cell mass) and a hollow termed the blastocoel, rather than a solid sphere. The inner cell mass will develop into cells that will characterise the embryo later on.

The trophoblast will then give birth to cells that will become the structures required for uterine wall implantation and the embryo’s maturation into a foetus in the uterus. As a result, the zygote will not only create the embryo but also the following outer foetal membranes (i.e. chorion and amnion).

The morula tends to be the same size as the zygote since the cells divide quickly and have no opportunity to expand. Furthermore, because the cells divide mitotically, they should have the same genetic makeup. In the illustration above, fast and widespread mitosis characterises the zygote-to-embryo transition. It will quickly transform from one-celled to multicellular as each cell undergoes mitosis. Because dividing cells are more susceptible to the impacts of mutagens, this period is critical. As a result, the chance of genetic mistakes (mutation) is greater at this time. As a result, women should avoid using any non-prescribed medications while pregnant. Although cells contain built-in methods to repair DNA mistakes, they may not be sufficient when the damage is extensive.

The foetus is nearing the end of its development. In humans, the foetal stage lasts from the 9th week after conception to the last week before the baby’s birth. This is the time when your body is growing and developing organs. The development of biological organs is a hallmark of this period.

Zygote Examples

The zygote is the earliest cell stage of pregnancy in humans. It begins in the fallopian tube and progresses to the uterus. The zygote splits as it travels, giving rise to cells that will likewise go through mitosis. The zygote will soon become an embryo, which will be placed in the uterus. The embryo will continue to grow into a foetus there.

The fusing of the nuclei of haploid cells creates a diploid zygote, known as a zygospore, in many fungi and protists. The zygospores are found in the zygosporangia of fungi. Following the union of unicellular gametes, zygospores form as cells in algae.

Zygote Citations


Similar Post:

Leave a Reply