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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain how bipotential tissues are directed to develop into male or female sex organs
  • Name the rudimentary duct systems in the embryo that are precursors to male or female internal sex organs
  • Describe the hormonal changes that bring about puberty, and the secondary sex characteristics of men and women

The development of the reproductive systems begins soon after fertilization of the egg, with primordial gonads beginning to develop approximately one month after conception. Reproductive development continues in utero, but there is little change in the reproductive system between infancy and puberty.

Development of the sexual organs in the embryo and fetus

Females are considered the “fundamental” sex—that is, without much chemical prompting, all fertilized eggs would develop into females. To become a male, an individual must be exposed to the cascade of factors initiated by a single gene on the male Y chromosome. This is called the SRY ( S ex-determining R egion of the Y chromosome). Because females do not have a Y chromosome, they do not have the SRY gene. Without a functional SRY gene, an individual will be female.

In both male and female embryos, the same group of cells has the potential to develop into either the male or female gonads; this tissue is considered bipotential. The SRY gene actively recruits other genes that begin to develop the testes, and suppresses genes that are important in female development. As part of this SRY -prompted cascade, germ cells in the bipotential gonads differentiate into spermatogonia. Without SRY , different genes are expressed, oogonia form, and primordial follicles develop in the primitive ovary.

Soon after the formation of the testis, the Leydig cells begin to secrete testosterone. Testosterone can influence tissues that are bipotential to become male reproductive structures. For example, with exposure to testosterone, cells that could become either the glans penis or the glans clitoris form the glans penis. Without testosterone, these same cells differentiate into the clitoris.

Not all tissues in the reproductive tract are bipotential. The internal reproductive structures (for example the uterus, uterine tubes, and part of the vagina in females; and the epididymis, ductus deferens, and seminal vesicles in males) form from one of two rudimentary duct systems in the embryo. For proper reproductive function in the adult, one set of these ducts must develop properly, and the other must degrade. In males, secretions from sustentacular cells trigger a degradation of the female duct, called the Müllerian duct    . At the same time, testosterone secretion stimulates growth of the male tract, the Wolffian duct    . Without such sustentacular cell secretion, the Müllerian duct will develop; without testosterone, the Wolffian duct will degrade. Thus, the developing offspring will be female. For more information and a figure of differentiation of the gonads, seek additional content on fetal development.

A baby’s gender is determined at conception, and the different genitalia of male and female fetuses develop from the same tissues in the embryo. View this animation to see a comparison of the development of structures of the female and male reproductive systems in a growing fetus. Where are the testes located for most of gestational time?

Questions & Answers

all of the following substance move in in and out of cell except
Mohd Reply
all of the following substance move in and out of cells except
Mohd
Which signaling molecule is most likely responsible for an increase in digestive activity?
Tonya Reply
Hi I think it is DNA
libim
Homeostatasis return to the body to a healthy state after a stressful stimuli by producing
Ofosu Reply
There are some people suffering serious injured what will we do in doing X-ray?
Jefford Reply
observe bone arrangements n associated structures like soft tissues muscles in general the radiographical changes
Terry
epithelial tissue lines blood vessels
Laura Reply
what is difference between anabolism and catabolism in simple language
Chinaza Reply
anabolism simply means building up while catabolism breaking down
Maaruf
building up and breaking down
odeh
explain respiratory centers
Tharshana Reply
which enzyme help in excretion of bile
Sakshi Reply
how conversion of Beta-carotiene into vitamin-A takes place
Sakshi
best reference books for anatomy pls suggest that
Sakshi
what is gross anatomy
Saroj Reply
The study of large structure of the body
Mablean
macroscopic anatomy (Gross anatomy)
odeh
manipulation of structures without aid of microscope due to their size
libim
what is scrotum
Dakshit Reply
a bag of skin near the penis which contains the testicles
Mablean
hi
Sardar
its me Sardar from kpk pakistan
Sardar
Why are you on my digits
Mablean
hi
Kryme
it is part if male organ that hold testis in position it also regulates temperature
libim
how does it work?
Uriah Reply
I want to know the fertilization process in human
Nana Reply
Which plane divides the body into right and left parts
Kaeze
sagittal plane
Irvin
Thank you
Kaeze
Homestatic regulations usually involves a (n) _ that detects a particular stimulus, and a(n) _that respond to the stimulus by communicating with a (n) _whose activity has an effect on the same stimulus.
Kaeze
A cell is producing proteins to be transported out of that cell. They will be processed on ribosomes that are
Kaeze
what are diseases in the bood
Azoyenime Reply
Haemophilia
Aliyu
right hypochondriac rision how meain word
Ganesh Reply
Diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus would most likely be indicated by ________.
Ganesh
oral cavity how miean
Ganesh Reply
oral cavity how mean what
Suresh
seems to me every one is here a doctor and worse part is that even they donot know what to ask.
Muhammad
they know what to ask the problem is how to ask it.too much broken english.
George
dear George ongeche I think if they ask these kind questions and telling themselves as HCPs or medical student's .these are the basic ones go ask something more interesting .
Muhammad

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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