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BIO310: Developmental Biology

Unit 1: Beginnings   This unit will introduce you to the field of developmental biology, including some of its most fundamental preoccupations, its early history, and our current understanding of the beginning of development itself: gametogenesis and fertilization.

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Identify a few major figures in the development of the field.
  • Answer questions about the field and how researchers’ understanding of development have changed over time.
  • Answer questions about the structure of sperm and eggs.
  • Demonstrate their understanding of the process of fertilization (including recognition, binding, fusion, and the activation of egg metabolism) and the roles of various molecules in that process.

1.1 Introduction to Developmental Biology   - Lecture: Professor Hazel Sive’s “Steps in Development” Link: MIT: Professor Hazel Sive’s “Steps in Development” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
Transcript (HTML)
Transcript (PDF)
iTunes U
 
Instructions: Watch Lecture 19 (“Steps in Development”); although the details of developmental processes will be unfamiliar to you until later in this course, this lecture will provide you with a good overview of the field of developmental biology and the areas of study within it.  This lecture will cover the entirety of Unit 1.
 
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1.1.1 Origins and History   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Comparative Embryology” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Comparative Embryology” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the introduction to the section on Comparative Embryology and the section “Epigenesis and Preformation.” These readings will cover the material in 1.1.1-1.1.2.
 
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1.1.2 Early Beliefs   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Sperm” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Sperm” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the first four paragraphs of this section (up to but not including the second website link).
 
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1.1.3 Basic Questions   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “The Questions of Developmental Biology” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “The Questions of Developmental Biology” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety.
 
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1.1.4 Research Approaches   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Comparative Embryology” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Comparative Embryology” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read from the section “Naming the Parts” through the end of this section. Make sure to view all associated figures (Figs. 1.3-1.11).

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1.2 Gametogenesis   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Structure of the Gametes” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Structure of the Gametes” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read from the fifth paragraph of the sub-section on “Sperm” through the end of this section, reading all of the section on “The Egg” and all associated figures (Figs. 7.2.-7.19).
 
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1.2.1 Isogamy and Anisogamy   1.2.2 Spermatogenesis vs. Oogenesis   1.3 Fertilization   1.3.1 Sperm and Egg Recognition   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Recognition of Egg and Sperm” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Recognition of Egg and Sperm” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety along with all associated figures (Figs. 7.8-7.18). This will cover the materials in 1.3.1-1.3.2.
 
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1.3.2 Sperm and Egg Binding   1.3.3 Membrane and Pronuclear Fusion   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Gamete Fusion and the Prevention of Polyspermy” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “Gamete Fusion and the Prevention of Polyspermy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this section in its entirety along with all associated figures (Figs. 7.20-7.26). This will cover the materials in 1.3.3-1.3.4.
 
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1.3.4 Mechanisms of Preventing Polyspermy   1.3.5 Fertilized-Egg Activation   - Reading: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “The Activation of Egg Metabolism” Link: National Institutes of Health: Professor Scott Gilbert’s Developmental Biology: “The Activation of Egg Metabolism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the introduction to this section as well as “Early Responses” and “Late Responses,” along with all associated figures (Figs. 7.1-7.30).  Do not read the grey text box on “The Activation of Gamete Metabolism.”
 
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  • Reading: The Society for Developmental Biology’s Developmental Biology Cinema: Dr. Lionel Jaffe's “Calcium Tsunami” Link: The Society for Developmental Biology’s Developmental Biology Cinema: Dr. Lionel Jaffe's “Calcium Tsunami” (HTML, Quicktime)
     
    Instructions: Watch this brief video of a fish egg’s calcium “wave” that blocks polyspermy and activates egg metabolism.
     
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