What is embryology?

• It is the science that deals with the processes and regulations in the prenatal growth and development of an organism/individual in the female genital tract. It begins with the fusion of male and female gametes (fertilization) in the fallopian tube up to the birth as a neonate.

• Prenatal development involves repeated division of most of the cells in the body resulting in growth in size, complexity, structural and functional differentiation of body.

 • Embryology includes the study of startling integration of various complex molecular, cellular and structural processes that are accountable for the growth and development of a 9-month-old neonate containing 5-7 × 1012 cells from a single-celled zygote. It is also called developmental anatomy.


 General embryology: It is the study of development during pre-embryonic and embryonic periods (first 8 weeks after fertilization). During this period, the single-celled zygote is converted by cell multiplication, migration and  reorganization into a miniature form of an individual with various organs and organ systems of the body.

 Systemic embryology: It is detailed study of formation of primordia and their structural and early functional organization into various organs and systems of the body. It is further subdivided into development of cardiovascular system, digestive system, urinary system, genital system, etc.

Comparative embryology: It is the study of embryos in different species of animals.

 Experimental embryology: It is for understanding the effects of certain drugs, environmental changes that are induced (exposure to radiation, stress) on the growth and development of embryos and fetuses of lower animals. The knowledge gained from these experiments can be used for avoiding the harmful effects in the human development. It is a vigorous and promising branch of embryology. Biochemical and molecular aspects in embryology: Chromosomes, gene sequencing, regulation.

Teratology: This is a branch of embryology that deals with abnormal embryonic and fetal development, i.e. congenital abnormalities or birth defects.

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