Spermatocytes: Definition & Function

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  • 0:00 What Are Spermatocytes?
  • 0:26 The Making of Spermatocytes
  • 1:23 Function
  • 2:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Marta Toran

Marta has taught high school and middle school Science and has a Master's degree in Science Education.

Spermatocytes are sperm cells at their infancy. They divide by meiosis to produce cells with half the number of chromosomes. This marks the start of sperm creation in the testes. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the function of these cells.

What Are Spermatocytes

Spermatocytes are one of several precursors of the tadpole-like sperm cells, which are found in semen. Sperm, spermatogonia, spermatozoa, spermatozoon, spermatocyte…these terms all have something to do with the male sex cell. To understand exactly what the difference is between spermatocytes and their relatives, we must take a trip deep into an adult man's testicle.

The Making of Spermatocytes

The process of making sperm cells is called spermatogenesis meaning birth of sperm. It takes place inside tiny, twisted, tightly-packed tubes in the male testis. These sperm factories are called seminiferous tubules.

Inside the seminiferous tubules, sperm are made in a 'conveyor belt' fashion, starting with a roundish, generic-looking cell (a type of stem cell called a germ cell) and ending with sperm cells equipped with the characteristics that enable them to reach and fertilize the female egg. This process is called spermatogenesis.

Early in the process of spermatogenesis the developing sperm cells are referred to as spermatocytes. These are found near the inner lining of the seminiferous tubules as the germ cells start showing first signs of differentiation (differentiation means becoming a specialized cell, in this case the male gamete).

Function

The main function of spermatocytes is to divide and produce immature sperm called spermatids. How does this happen?

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