Kelly has taught High School Science and Applied Communications. She holds an Education Specialist Degree in Ed. Leadership.
Definition of Gametes
Gametes are the reproductive cells used during sexual reproduction to produce a new organism called a zygote. The gametes in males and females are different. The male gamete is called sperm. It is much smaller than the female gamete and very mobile. It has a long tail, flagellum, that allows it to move towards the female gamete. The female gamete is called an egg or ova. It is much larger than the sperm and is not made to move.
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Formation of Gametes
Both the male and female gametes are formed during a process of cellular reproduction called meiosis. During meiosis, the DNA is only replicated or copied one time. However, the cells are divided into four separate cells. This means that the new gamete cells have only half of the number of chromosomes as the other cells. So, during meiosis, DNA or chromosomes are copied, then split into two cells (with one full set of chromosomes each), then again split into two more cells, leaving only half of the pairs of chromosomes in each new cell.
These new cells with only half of the chromosomes will mature into the gametes. The gametes are haploid cells because they have only one set of chromosomes. When they unite they will join their single sets of chromosomes to make a complete set, and then they will be considered diploid cells. In the female, the eggs or ova mature in the female's ovaries. The sperm will mature in the male's testes.
During sexual reproduction, a male and female gamete will merge together to form a new organism. The two haploid cells will fuse together to form a diploid cell called a zygote. The zygote will undergo massive cellular reproduction and develop into a new individual organism with half of the chromosomes from the mother and half from the father.
During sexual reproduction, the sperm does all of the traveling to meet up with the egg. Many sperm are sent on the mission to find the egg; however, very few sperm actually make it to the egg. When the remaining sperm reach the egg, the race is on to penetrate the egg. Once the first sperm penetrates the egg, then many chemical and electrical reactions happen instantly, eliminating the chance of any other sperm doing the same.
In some animals, the fusion or fertilization happens inside the body of the female. This is called internal fertilization. Human gametes fuse inside the body. Other animals, like frogs, use external fertilization. The eggs leave the female and the male fertilizes them outside of the body.
Gametes are the cells used during sexual reproduction to produce a new individual organism or zygote. The male gamete, sperm, is a smaller, mobile cell that meets up with the much larger and less mobile female gamete, egg or ova. Both sperm and egg are only haploid cells. They only carry half of the chromosomes needed. When they fuse together, their chromosomes will form a complete set, and the newly formed zygote will be made of diploid cells. This fusion or fertilization can happen inside or outside of the animal's body.
After you have finished, you should be able to:
- Name and describe the male and female gametes
- Recall the purpose of gamete cells
- Summarize how gametes are formed
- Explain the fertilization process
- Identify the two types of fertilization
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Gametes: Definition, Formation & Fusion
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