Index to this page

 The Egg

 Fertilization

 Cleavage

 Gastrulation

 Germ Layers

 Differentiation

 Growth

Frog Embryology
The Egg
The frog egg is a huge cell; its volume is over 1.6 million times larger than a normal
frog cell. During embryonic development, the egg will be converted into a tadpole
containing millions of cells but containing the same amount of organic matter.

 The upper hemisphere of the egg — the animal pole — is dark.

 The lower hemisphere — the vegetal pole — is light.

 When deposited in the water and ready for fertilization, the haploid egg is at
metaphase of meiosis II


. with the resulting daughter nuclei becoming partitioned off.  A furrow appears that runs longitudinally through the poles of the egg.  The haploid sperm and egg nuclei fuse to form the diploid zygote nucleus.  The cytoplasm of the egg rotates about 30 degrees relative to the poles. It produces the 8-cell stage. cells. Cleavage The zygote nucleus undergoes a series of mitoses.  It foretells the future pattern of the animal: its dorsal (D) and ventral (V) surfaces. in separate. its left and right sides. by cytokinesis.  In some amphibians (including Xenopus). passing through the point at which the sperm entered and bisecting the gray crescent.  This divides the egg into two halves forming the 2-cell stage The second cleavage forms the 4-cell stage. and ever-smaller. this is revealed by the appearance of a light-colored band.Entrance of the sperm initiates a sequence of events:  Meiosis II is completed. the gray crescent. The furrow in the third cleavage runs horizontally but in a plane closer to the animal than to the vegetal pole. its anterior (A) and posterior (P).  The gray crescent forms opposite the point where the sperm entered. The first cleavage occurs shortly after the zygote nucleus forms. The cleavage furrow again runs through the poles but at right angles to the first furrow.

By the next day.The next few cleavages also proceed in synchrony.  Not until the blastula contains some 4. Gastrulation The start of gastrulation is marked by the pushing inward ("invagination") of cells in the region of the embryo once occupied by the middle of the gray crescent. the blastula looks just like the original egg to the unaided eye. continued cleavage has produced a hollow ball of thousands of cells called the blastula. During this entire process  there has been no growth of the embryo. A fluid-filled cavity. because the cells of the blastula are so small. three distinct "germ layers" are formed:  ectoderm .000 cells is there any transcription of zygote genes. producing a 16- cell and then a 32-cell embryo. This produces:  an opening (the blastopore) that will be the future anus  a cluster of cells that develops into the Spemann organizer (named after one of the German embryologists who discovered its remarkable inductive properties). In fact. However. as cleavage continues. the cells in the animal pole begin dividing more rapidly than those in the vegetal pole and thus become smaller and more numerous. forms within it. All of the activities up to now have been run by gene products (mRNA and proteins) deposited by the mother when she formed the egg. As gastrulation continues. the blastocoel.

forming the neural folds stage.  induce the ectoderm lying above it to begin to form neural tissue instead of skin. o In time the lips of the folds fuse to form the neural tube. liver.  mesoderm  endoderm Each of these will have special roles to play in building the complete animal. . o The neural tube eventually develops into the brain and spinal cord. which is the precursor of the backbone. Germ-layer origin of various body tissues Ectoderm Mesoderm Endoderm skin notochord inner lining of gut. o This ectoderm grows up into two longitudinal folds. pancreas brain muscles inner lining of lungs spinal cord blood inner lining of bladder all other neurons bone thyroid and parathyroid glands sense receptors sex organs thymus The Spemann organizer (mostly mesoderm) will:  develop into the notochord. Some are listed in the table.

the cells of the embryo take on the specialized structures and functions that they have in the tadpole. etc.g. it is a fully-formed organism. it has no more organic matter in it than the original frog egg had. forming neurons. Differentiation Although the various layers of cells in the frog gastrula have definite and different fates in store for them. In due course. Welcome&Next Search 17 May 2011 . Growth At the time the tadpole hatches. these are not readily apparent in their structure. the brain and spinal cord. etc. epithelial cells. blood cells. However.. the tadpole can grow. It gains additional molecules with which it can increase the number of cells that make up its various tissues. looking for tissue-specific proteins) can their differences be detected.. in due course. however.See Organizing the Embryo: The Central Nervous System to read more about the Spemann organizer and the chemical signals responsible for converting the ectoderm above the notochord into neural folds and. Only by probing for different patterns of gene expression (e. however. muscle cells. Once able to feed.