Days 0
Gives rise to Morula
Gray's p.45
Code TE E2.
Anatomical terminology

A zygote (from mitosis, the process of cell division.

In multicellular organisms, a zygote is always synthesized from the union of two gametes, and constitutes the first stage in a unique organism's development. Zygotes are usually produced by a fertilization event between two haploid cells—an ovum (female gamete) and a sperm cell (male gamete)—which combine to form the single diploid cell. Such zygotes contain DNA derived from both parents, and this provides all the genetic information necessary to form a new individual. In land plants, the zygote is formed within a chamber called the archegonium. In seedless plants, the archegonium is usually flask-shaped, with a long hollow neck through which the sperm cell enters. As the zygote divides and grows, it does so inside the archegonium. With onset of the first cellular divisions, an animal zygote transforms into a morula, or a mass of cells.

Oscar Hertwig and Richard Hertwig made some of the first discoveries on the zygote formation.


  • Animals 1
  • In other species 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


In animal development, the term zygote is also used more loosely to refer to the group of cells formed by the first few cell divisions, although this is properly referred to as a morula.[2]

In mammalian reproduction, after fertilization has taken place the zygote travels down the fallopian tube, while dividing to form more cells[3] without the zygote actually increasing in size. This cell division is mitotic, and is known as cleavage.[4] All mammals go through the zygote stage of life. Mammalian zygotes eventually develop into a blastocyst, after which they are more generally termed an embryo, and then a fetus.

A human zygote exists as a single cell before undergoing cleavage, forming blastomeres,[5] and becomes a blastocyst on the fifth day.[6]

In other species

A Chlamydomonas zygote that contains chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) from both parents, such cells generally are rare since normally cpDNA is inherited uniparental from the mt+ mating type parent.These rare biparental zygotes allowed mapping of chloroplast genes by recombination.

See also


  1. ^ "English etymology of zygote". myetymology.com. 
  2. ^ Neas, John F. "Human Development". Embryology Atlas
  3. ^ O’Reilly, Deirdre. "Fetal development". MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia (2007-10-19). Retrieved 2009-02-15.
  4. ^ Klossner, N. Jayne and Hatfield, Nancy. Introductory Maternity & Pediatric Nursing, p. 107 (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006).
  5. ^ Blastomere Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2012.
  6. ^ Blackburn, Susan. Maternal, Fetal, & Neonatal Physiology, p. 80 (Elsevier Health Sciences 2007).
Preceded by
Oocyte + Sperm
Stages of human development
Succeeded by