Fertilisation

Fertilisation

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Fertilisation is the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism. In animals, the process involves the fusion of an ovum
Ovum
An ovum is a haploid female reproductive cell or gamete. Both animals and embryophytes have ova. The term ovule is used for the young ovum of an animal, as well as the plant structure that carries the female gametophyte and egg cell and develops into a seed after fertilization...

 with a sperm
Sperm
The term sperm is derived from the Greek word sperma and refers to the male reproductive cells. In the types of sexual reproduction known as anisogamy and oogamy, there is a marked difference in the size of the gametes with the smaller one being termed the "male" or sperm cell...

, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

. Depending on the animal species, the process can occur within the body of the female in internal fertilisation, or outside (external fertilisation). The entire process of development of new individuals is called reproduction.

Flowering plants


After the carpel is pollinated
Pollination
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains transport the male gametes to where the female gamete are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself...

, the pollen grain germinates in a response to a sugary fluid secreted by the mature stigma (mainly sucrose). From each pollen grain, a pollen tube
Pollen tube
The pollen tubes is the male gametophyte of seed plants that acts as a conduit to transport the male sperm cells from the pollen grain, either from the stigma to the ovules at the base of the pistil, or directly through ovule tissue in some gymnosperms .After pollination, the pollen tube...

 grows out that attempts to travel to the ovary by creating a path through the female tissue. The vegetative (or tube) and generative nuclei of the pollen grain pass into its respective pollen tube. After the pollen
Pollen
Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the microgametophytes of seed plants, which produce the male gametes . Pollen grains have a hard coat that protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement from the stamens to the pistil of flowering plants or from the male cone to the...

 grain adheres to the stigma of the carpel (female reproductive structure) a pollen tube
Pollen tube
The pollen tubes is the male gametophyte of seed plants that acts as a conduit to transport the male sperm cells from the pollen grain, either from the stigma to the ovules at the base of the pistil, or directly through ovule tissue in some gymnosperms .After pollination, the pollen tube...

 grows and penetrates the ovule
Ovule
Ovule means "small egg". In seed plants, the ovule is the structure that gives rise to and contains the female reproductive cells. It consists of three parts: The integument forming its outer layer, the nucellus , and the megaspore-derived female gametophyte in its center...

 through a tiny pore called a micropyle
Micropyle
A micropyle is small opening in the surface of an ovule, through which the pollen tube penetrates, often visible as a small pore in the ripe seed....

.

The pollen tube does not directly reach the ovary in a straight line. It travels near the skin of the style and curls to the bottom of the ovary, then near the receptacle, it breaks through the ovule
Ovule
Ovule means "small egg". In seed plants, the ovule is the structure that gives rise to and contains the female reproductive cells. It consists of three parts: The integument forming its outer layer, the nucellus , and the megaspore-derived female gametophyte in its center...

 through the micropyle (an opening in the ovule wall) and the pollen tube "bursts" into the embryo sac.

After being fertilised, the ovary starts to swell and will develop into the fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

. With multi-seeded fruits, multiple grains of pollen are necessary for syngamy with each ovule. The growth of the pollen tube is controlled by the vegetative (or tube) cytoplasm. Hydrolytic enzymes are secreted by the pollen tube that digest the female tissue as the tube grows down the stigma and style; the digested tissue is used as a nutrient source for the pollen tube as it grows. During pollen tube growth toward the ovary, the generative nucleus divides to produce two separate sperm nuclei (haploid number of chromosomes) – a growing pollen tube therefore contains three separate nuclei, two sperm and one tube. The sperms are interconnected and dimorphic, the large one, in a number of plants, is also linked to the tube nucleus and the interconnected sperm and tube nucleuses form the "male germ unit".

Double fertilisation
Double fertilization
Double fertilization is a complex fertilization mechanism that has evolved in flowering plants . This process involves the joining of a female gametophyte with two male gametes . It begins when a pollen grain adheres to the stigma of the carpel, the female reproductive structure of a flower...

 is the process in angiosperms (flowering plants) in which two sperm
Sperm
The term sperm is derived from the Greek word sperma and refers to the male reproductive cells. In the types of sexual reproduction known as anisogamy and oogamy, there is a marked difference in the size of the gametes with the smaller one being termed the "male" or sperm cell...

 nuclei from each pollen tube fertilise two cells
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 in an ovary. After the pollen tube reaches the ovary the pollen tube nucleus disintegrates and the two sperm cells are released into the ovary; one of the two sperm cells fertilises the egg cell (at the bottom of the ovule near the micropyle), forming a diploid (2n) zygote
Zygote
A zygote , or zygocyte, is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo...

. This is the point when fertilisation actually occurs. Note that pollination and fertilisation are two separate processes. The other sperm cell fuses with two haploid polar nuclei (contained in the central cell) in the centre of the embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

 sac (or ovule). The resulting cell is triploid (3n). This triploid cell divides through mitosis
Mitosis
Mitosis is the process by which a eukaryotic cell separates the chromosomes in its cell nucleus into two identical sets, in two separate nuclei. It is generally followed immediately by cytokinesis, which divides the nuclei, cytoplasm, organelles and cell membrane into two cells containing roughly...

 and forms the endosperm
Endosperm
Endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants around the time of fertilization. It surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, though it can also contain oils and protein. This makes endosperm an important source of nutrition in human diet...

, a nutrient
Nutrient
A nutrient is a chemical that an organism needs to live and grow or a substance used in an organism's metabolism which must be taken in from its environment. They are used to build and repair tissues, regulate body processes and are converted to and used as energy...

-rich tissue
Tissue (biology)
Tissue is a cellular organizational level intermediate between cells and a complete organism. A tissue is an ensemble of cells, not necessarily identical, but from the same origin, that together carry out a specific function. These are called tissues because of their identical functioning...

, inside the seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

.

The two central cell maternal nuclei (polar nuclei) that contribute to the endosperm arise by mitosis from a single meiotic product. Therefore, maternal contribution to the genetic constitution of the triploid endosperm is different from that of the embryo.

Double fertilisation occurs only in angiosperm plants. One primitive species of flowering plant, Nuphar polysepala
Nuphar
Nuphar is genus of aquatic plants in the family Nymphaeaceae, with a temperate to subarctic Northern Hemisphere distribution. Common names include water-lily , pond-lily, and spatterdock .A total of eight species and three hybrids are currently accepted in the genus...

, has endosperm that is diploid, resulting from the fusion of a pollen nucleus with one, rather than two, maternal nuclei. It is believed that early in the development of angiosperm linages, there was a duplication in this mode of reproduction, producing seven-celled/eight-nucleate female gametophytes, and triploid endosperms with a 2:1 maternal to paternal genome ratio.

The process is easy to visualise if one looks at maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 silk, which is the female flower of corn. Pollen from the tassel
Tassel
A tassel is a finishing feature in fabric decoration. It is a universal ornament that is seen in varying versions in many cultures around the globe.-Etymology:...

 (the male flower) falls on the sticky external portion of the silk, and then pollen tubes grow down the silk to the attached ovule. The dried silk remains inside the husk of the ear as the seeds mature; if one carefully removes the husk, the floral structures may be seen.

In many plants, the development of the flesh of the fruit is proportional to the percentage of fertilised ovules. For example, with watermelon
Watermelon
Watermelon is a vine-like flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a special kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind and fleshy center...

, about a thousand grains of pollen must be delivered and spread evenly on the three lobes of the stigma to make a normal sized and shaped fruit.

Fertilisation in animals


The mechanics behind fertilisation has been studied extensively in sea urchins and mice. This research addresses the question of how the sperm
Spermatozoon
A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote...

 and the appropriate egg find each other and the question of how only one sperm gets into the egg and delivers its contents. There are three steps to fertilisation that ensure species-specificity:
  1. Chemotaxis
  2. Sperm activation/acrosomal reaction
  3. Sperm/egg adhesion

Internal vs. external


Consideration as to whether an animal (more specifically a vertebrate) uses internal or external fertilisation is often dependent on the method of birth. Oviparous animals laying eggs with thick calcium shells, such as chickens, or thick leathery shells generally reproduce via internal fertilisation so that the sperm fertilises the egg without having to pass through the thick, protective, tertiary layer of the egg. Ovoviviparous
Ovoviviparity
Ovoviviparity, ovovivipary, or ovivipary, is a mode of reproduction in animals in which embryos develop inside eggs that are retained within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch...

 and euviviparous animals also use internal fertilisation. It is important to note that although some organisms reproduce via amplexus
Amplexus
Amplexus is a form of pseudocopulation in which a male amphibian grasps a female with his front legs as part of the mating process...

, they may still use internal fertilisation, as with some salamanders. Advantages to internal fertilisation include: minimal waste of gametes; greater chance of individual egg fertilisation, relatively "longer" time period of egg protection, and selective fertilisation; many females have the ability to store sperm for extended periods of time and can fertilise their eggs at their own desire.

Oviparous animals producing eggs with thin tertiary membranes or no membranes at all, on the other hand, use external fertilisation methods. Advantages to external fertilisation include: minimal contact and transmission of bodily fluids; decreasing the risk of disease transmission, and greater genetic variation (especially during broadcast spawning external fertilisation methods).

Sea urchins


Chemotaxis
Chemotaxis
Chemotaxis is the phenomenon in which somatic cells, bacteria, and other single-cell or multicellular organisms direct their movements according to certain chemicals in their environment. This is important for bacteria to find food by swimming towards the highest concentration of food molecules,...

 was discovered as the method by which sperm find the eggs. This chemotaxis is an example of a ligand/receptor interaction. Resact is a 14 amino acid peptide purified from the jelly coat of A. punctulata that attracts the migration of sperm.

After finding the egg, the sperm gets through the jelly coat through a process called sperm activation. In another ligand/receptor interaction, an oligosaccharide component of the egg binds and activates a receptor on the sperm and causes the acrosomal reaction. The acrosomal vesicles of the sperm fuse with the plasma membrane and are released. In this process, molecules bound to the acrosomal vesicle membrane, such as bindin, are exposed on the surface of the sperm. These contents digest the jelly coat and eventually the vitelline membrane. In addition to the release of acrosomal vesicles, there is explosive polymerization of actin to form a thin spike at the head of the sperm called the acrosomal process.

The sperm binds to the egg through another ligand reaction between receptors on the vitelline membrane
Vitelline membrane
The vitelline membrane is a structure directly adjacent to the outer surface of the plasma membrane of an ovum. It is composed mostly of protein fibers, with protein receptors needed for sperm binding which, in turn, are bound to sperm plasma membrane receptors...

. The sperm surface protein bindin, binds to a receptor on the vitelline membrane identified as EBR1.

Fusion of the plasma membranes of the sperm and egg are likely mediated by bindin. At the site of contact, fusion causes the formation of a fertilisation cone.

Mammals


Usually mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s rely on internal fertilisation through copulation. After a male ejaculates, a large number of sperm cells move to the upper vagina (via contractions from the vagina) through the cervix
Cervix
The cervix is the lower, narrow portion of the uterus where it joins with the top end of the vagina. It is cylindrical or conical in shape and protrudes through the upper anterior vaginal wall...

 and across the length of the uterus
Uterus
The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals including humans. One end, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the other is connected to one or both fallopian tubes, depending on the species...

 toward the ovum. The capacitated
Capacitation
Capacitation is the penultimate step in the maturation of mammalian spermatozoa and is required to render them competent to fertilize an oocyte.This step is a biochemical event; the sperm move normally and look mature prior to capacitation....

 spermatozoon and the oocyte meet and interact in the ampulla of the fallopian tube
Fallopian tube
The Fallopian tubes, also known as oviducts, uterine tubes, and salpinges are two very fine tubes lined with ciliated epithelia, leading from the ovaries of female mammals into the uterus, via the utero-tubal junction...

. Thermotactic and chemotactic gradients are involved in sperm guiding towards the egg cell, at least during the final stage of sperm migration. Spermatozoa have been shown to respond to the temperature gradient of ~2°C between the oviduct and the ampulla, and chemotactic gradients of Progesterone
Progesterone
Progesterone also known as P4 is a C-21 steroid hormone involved in the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy and embryogenesis of humans and other species...

 have been confirmed as the signal emanating from the cumulus oophorus
Cumulus oophorus
The cumulus oophorus , also called discus proligerus, is a cluster of cells that surround the oocyte both in the ovarian follicle and after ovulation...

 cells surrounding rabbit and human oocytes. Capacitated and hyperactivated sperm cells respond to these gradients by changing their behaviour and moving towards the cumulus-oocyte complex. Other chemotactic signals like formyl Met-Leu-Phe (fMLF) may also guide spermatozoa.

The zona pellucida
Zona pellucida
The zona pellucida is a glycoprotein membrane surrounding the plasma membrane of an oocyte. It is a vital constitutive part of the latter, external but of essential importance to it...

 of the egg binds with the sperm. In contrast to sea urchins, the sperm binds to the egg before the acrosomal reaction. The zona pellucida is a thick layer of extracellular matrix that surrounds the egg and is similar to the role of the vitelline membrane in sea urchins. A glycoprotein in the zona pellucida, ZP3
ZP3
Zona pellucida sperm-binding protein 3, also known as zona pellucida glycoprotein 3 or the sperm receptor, is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ZP3 gene...

 was discovered to be responsible for egg/sperm adhesion in mice. The receptor galactosyltransferase
Galactosyltransferase
Galactosyltransferase is a type of glycosyltransferase which catalyzes the transfer of galactose. An example is B-N-acetylglucosaminyl-glycopeptide b-1,4-galactosyltransferase....

 (GalT) binds to the N-acetylglucosamine residues on the ZP3 and is important for binding with the sperm and activating the acrosome reaction. ZP3 is sufficient for sperm/egg binding but not necessary. There are two additional sperm receptors: a 250kD protein that binds to an oviduct secreted protein and SED1 which binds independently to the zona. After the acrosome reaction, it is believed that the sperm remains bound to the zona pellucida through exposed ZP2 receptors. These receptors are unknown in mice but have been identified in guinea pigs.

In mammals, binding of the spermatozoon to the GalT initiates the acrosome reaction
Acrosome reaction
During fertilization, a sperm must first fuse with the plasma membrane and then penetrate the female egg in order to fertilize it. Fusing to the egg usually causes little problem, whereas penetrating through the egg's hard shell can present more of a problem to the sperm...

. This process releases the enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 hyaluronidase
Hyaluronidase
The hyaluronidases are a family of enzymes that degrade hyaluronic acid.In humans, there are six associated genes, including HYAL1, HYAL2, HYAL3, and PH-20/SPAM1.-Use as a drug:...

, which digests the matrix of hyaluronic acid in the vestments surrounding the oocyte. Fusion between the oocyte plasma membranes and sperm follows, allowing the entry of the sperm nucleus
Cell nucleus
In cell biology, the nucleus is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within these...

, centriole
Centriole
A Centriole is a barrel-shaped cell structure found in most animal eukaryotic cells, though it is absent in higher plants and most fungi. The walls of each centriole are usually composed of nine triplets of microtubules...

 and flagellum
Flagellum
A flagellum is a tail-like projection that protrudes from the cell body of certain prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and plays the dual role of locomotion and sense organ, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell. There are some notable differences between prokaryotic and...

, but not the mitochondria
Mitochondrion
In cell biology, a mitochondrion is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in most eukaryotic cells. These organelles range from 0.5 to 1.0 micrometers in diameter...

, into the oocyte. The fusion is likely mediated by the protein CD9
CD9
CD9 antigen is a protein that in humans is encoded by the CD9 gene.-Interactions:CD9 has been shown to interact with TSPAN4, PTGFRN, CD81, CD117, CD46, CD29 and CD49c.-Further reading:...

 in mice (the binding homolog). The egg "activates" itself upon fusing with a single sperm cell, thereby changing its cell membrane to prevent fusion with other sperm.

This process ultimately leads to the formation of a diploid cell called a zygote
Zygote
A zygote , or zygocyte, is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo...

. The zygote begins to divide and form a blastocyst
Blastocyst
The blastocyst is a structure formed in the early embryogenesis of mammals, after the formation of the morula. It is a specifically mammalian example of a blastula. It possesses an inner cell mass , or embryoblast, which subsequently forms the embryo, and an outer layer of cells, or trophoblast,...

 and when it reaches the uterus, it performs implantation in the endometrium. At this point the female's pregnancy
Pregnancy
Pregnancy refers to the fertilization and development of one or more offspring, known as a fetus or embryo, in a woman's uterus. In a pregnancy, there can be multiple gestations, as in the case of twins or triplets...

 has begun. If the embryo implants in any tissue other than the uterine
Uterus
The uterus or womb is a major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals including humans. One end, the cervix, opens into the vagina, while the other is connected to one or both fallopian tubes, depending on the species...

 wall, an ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis , is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable. Furthermore, they are dangerous for the parent, since internal haemorrhage is a life threatening complication...

 results, which can be fatal to the mother.

In some animals (e.g. rabbits) the act of coitus induces ovulation by stimulating release of the pituitary hormone gonadotropin. This greatly increases the probability that coitus will result in pregnancy.

Humans


The term conception commonly refers to fertilisation, the successful fusion of gametes to form a new organism. 'Conception' is used by some to refer to implantation and is thus a subject of semantic arguments about the beginning of pregnancy
Beginning of pregnancy controversy
Controversy over the beginning of pregnancy usually occurs in the context of the abortion debate. Depending on where pregnancy is considered to begin, some methods of birth control or infertility treatment might be considered abortifacient...

, typically in the context of the abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 debate.
Gastrulation
Gastrulation
Gastrulation is a phase early in the embryonic development of most animals, during which the single-layered blastula is reorganized into a trilaminar structure known as the gastrula. These three germ layers are known as the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm.Gastrulation takes place after cleavage...

, which occurs around 16 days after fertilisation, is the point in development when the implanted blastocyst develops three germ layers, the endoderm, the ectoderm and the mesoderm. It is at this point that the genetic code of the father becomes fully involved in the development of the embryo. Until this point in development, twinning is possible. Additionally, interspecies hybrids survive only until gastrulation, and have no chance of development afterward.
However this stance is not entirely accepted as some human developmental biology literature refers to the "conceptus" and such medical literature refers to the "products of conception" as the post-implantation embryo and its surrounding membranes. The term "conception" is not usually used in scientific literature because of its variable definition and connotation.

Fertilisation and genetic recombination


Meiosis
Meiosis
Meiosis is a special type of cell division necessary for sexual reproduction. The cells produced by meiosis are gametes or spores. The animals' gametes are called sperm and egg cells....

 results in a random segregation of the genes contributed from each parent. Each parent organism generally has the same genetic make-up, but differs for a fraction of their genes. Therefore, each gamete
Gamete
A gamete is a cell that fuses with another cell during fertilization in organisms that reproduce sexually...

 produced by a person will be genetically different from the others from that person, as well as from the gametes produced by another person. When gametes first fuse at fertilisation, the chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s donated by the parent
Parent
A parent is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species. In humans, a parent is of a child . Children can have one or more parents, but they must have two biological parents. Biological parents consist of the male who sired the child and the female who gave birth to the child...

s are combined, and, in human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s, this means that (2²²)² = 17.6x1012 chromosomally different zygote
Zygote
A zygote , or zygocyte, is the initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined by means of sexual reproduction. In multicellular organisms, it is the earliest developmental stage of the embryo...

s are possible for the non-sex chromosomes, even assuming no chromosomal crossover
Chromosomal crossover
Chromosomal crossover is an exchange of genetic material between homologous chromosomes. It is one of the final phases of genetic recombination, which occurs during prophase I of meiosis in a process called synapsis. Synapsis begins before the synaptonemal complex develops, and is not completed...

. If crossover occurs once, then on average (4²²)² = 309x1024 genetically different zygotes are possible for every couple, not considering that crossover events can take place at most points along each chromosome. The X and Y chromosomes do not undergo crossover events, so are excluded from the calculation. Note that the mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 is only inherited from the maternal parent.

Parthenogenesis


Another method of fertilisation occurs among animals that normally reproduce sexually, through parthenogenesis
Parthenogenesis
Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction found in females, where growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization by a male...

: when the gamete of a female is not fertilised by a male, yet produces viable and unique offspring that are not clones. Only DNA from the mother is inherited, but it is not identical to her. Normal eggs of the mother become fertilised, without sperm, and development proceeds normally. This occurs naturally in several species and may be induced in others through a chemical or electrical stimulus. In 2004, Japanese researchers led by Tomohiro Kono succeeded after 457 attempts to merge the ova
Ovum
An ovum is a haploid female reproductive cell or gamete. Both animals and embryophytes have ova. The term ovule is used for the young ovum of an animal, as well as the plant structure that carries the female gametophyte and egg cell and develops into a seed after fertilization...

 of two mice, the result of which developed normally into a mouse. This was achieved by blocking certain proteins that would normally prevent the possibility.

See also

  • Kaguya (mouse)
  • Female sperm
    Female sperm
    Female Sperm is a term that refers to a sperm that contains an X chromosome, produced in the usual way by a male, referring to the fact that when such a sperm fertilizes an egg, a female child is born. However, since the late 1980s, scientists have explored how to produce sperm whereby all of the...

  • In vitro fertilisation
    In vitro fertilisation
    In vitro fertilisation is a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed...

  • Fetal development
    Fetal development
    Prenatal or antenatal development is the process in which a human embryo or fetus gestates during pregnancy, from fertilization until birth. Often, the terms fetal development, foetal development, or embryology are used in a similar sense.After fertilization the embryogenesis starts...

  • Superfetation
    Superfetation
    Superfetation is the simultaneous occurrence of more than one stage of developing embryo in the same animal. In mammals it manifests as the formation of a fetus from a different menstrual cycle while another embryo is already present in the uterus...

  • Superfecundation
    Superfecundation
    Superfecundation is the fertilization of two or more ova from the same cycle by sperm from separate acts of sexual intercourse. The term superfecundation is derived from fecund, meaning the ability to produce offspring....

  • Conception Cap
  • Conception Device
    Conception device
    A conception device is a medical device which is used to assist in the achievement of a pregnancy, often, but not always, by means other than sexual intercourse or NI...

  • Proembryo
    Proembryo
    Proembryo, or pro-embryo, is a botanical term that has been used for centuries, to denote the series of cells that are formed after fertilization within the ovule of a flowering plant, before formation of the embryo....