Send to

Choose Destination
Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2009;25:457-82. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.042308.13350.

Gonad morphogenesis in vertebrates: divergent means to a convergent end.

Author information

Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


A critical element of successful sexual reproduction is the generation of sexually dimorphic adult reproductive organs, the testis and ovary, which produce functional gametes. Examination of different vertebrate species shows that the adult gonad is remarkably similar in its morphology across different phylogenetic classes. Surprisingly, however, the cellular and molecular programs employed to create similar organs are not evolutionarily conserved. We highlight the mechanisms used by different vertebrate model systems to generate the somatic architecture necessary to support gametogenesis. In addition, we examine the different vertebrate patterns of germ cell migration from their site of origin to colonize the gonad and highlight their roles in sex-specific morphogenesis. We also discuss the plasticity of the adult gonad and consider how different genetic and environmental conditions can induce transitions between testis and ovary morphology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center