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Difference Between Zygote and Embryo

embryoZygote vs Embryo

A zygote or a zygocyte is the original cell that comes to creation when a new organism is formed through sexual reproduction. A zygote is formed from the synthesis resulting out of the union of the two distinctive gametes. On the other hand the embryo is the mutlicellular diploid eukaryote in one of the early stages of development. The eukaryote is termed as the embryo, in humans, 8 weeks past the fertilization.

The term ‘zygote’ comes from the root Greek word ‘zygotos’ meaning yoked or ‘to yoke’ or ‘joined’ or to ‘join’. On the other hand, embryo comes from the root Latin word ’embryum’ meaning ‘that which grows’.

Zygote is the first stage in the development process of an organism. It is produced of the process of fertilization occurring amongst the haploid ovum cell from the female and the haploid sperm cell from the male. Both these two cells combine to form the sole diploid cell or the zygote. It is the carrier of the DNA and all the genetic traits derived from the parents. The zygote provides all the genetic information indispensable for the growth of the new organism. On the other hand, embryo refers to that stage in the developing process of the organism which starts from the initiation of the first cell division till the birth (till hatching in amphibians and aves and germination in case of plants). The developing process of the embryo is termed as embryogenesis.

The zygote has half of the DNA of both the parents. This is from where the embryo derives its genetic makeup. Zygote is the stage that is succeeded by an embryo.

The zygote comprises of a single cell whereas the embryo is multicellular as in this stage cell division has already commenced. The mitosis of the zygote results in to the formation of the embryo.

1. Zygote in unicellular whereas embryo is multicellular.
2. Zygote is termed as a zygocyte in medical terms while the embryo is termed as a diploid eukaryote.
3. Zygote comes from the root Greek word ‘zygotos’ meaning yoked while embryo comes from the root Latin word ’embryum’ meaning ‘that which grows’.
4. The mitosis of the zygote results in to the formation of the embryo. So zygote is the first stage in the development of a new organism while embryo is the stage that follows next.
5. The process of zygote formation is fertilization while that of embryo is embryogenesis.

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  1. Finally a clear difference for my 11 year old daughter ! Thank you.

  2. Article leaves out the important Blastocyst phase; incomplete information.

  3. This raises the question as to when “life” begins. At conception? A zygote? A fetus? An embryo? At a point in time during gestation between conception and delivery of a breathing self sustaining human being? Is discarding an embryo abortion?

  4. Nice

  5. Good explaination


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