embryo

Nourishment of the Embryo

In lower animals, which lay their eggs in water, the developing embryo is nourished by yolk, absorbing oxygen from and discharging wastes directly into the water. In terrestrial oviparous forms, the egg contains the yolk and also a surrounding fluid (e.g., the albumen of bird eggs). In mammals, accessory membranes, comprising both embryonic and uterine tissue, develop around the embryo—the amnion, filled with liquid, and the chorion and allantois, which help to form the placenta, through which nourishment and oxygen in the blood of the mother diffuse into the fetus and wastes diffuse back. In the higher plants, the divisions of the fertilized ovum and the differentiation of the tissues to form the embryonic root (hypocotyl), stem (epicotyl), and leaves (cotyledons) occur inside the ovule within the ovary at the base of the pistil. The matured ovule is the seed; the fruit, when it is produced, is the developed ovary.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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