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noun, plural: gametes

(1) A reproductive cell or sex cell that contains the haploid set of chromosomes, e.g. spermatozoon or sperm cell (male reproductive cell) and egg cell or ovum (female reproductive cell).

(2) A mature haploid reproductive cell as produced by gametogenesis, a process involving meiosis

(3) A cell that fuses with another reproductive cell of the opposite sex during fertilization forming a zygote that develops into a new individual.


In certain organisms, like humans, there are two morphologically distinct types of gametes: the male gamete (sperm cell) which is generally smaller and motile and the female gamete (ovum) which is larger and nonmotile. This condition is called anisogamy, or heterogamy, wherein the female and male gametes are of different sizes. Isogamy, in contrast, is the condition wherein both sexes are of the same size.

Word origin: Ancient Greek γαμετης; translated gamete = wife, gametes = husband.

Derived terms: gametic (adjective), gametocyte (noun), gametophyte (noun), gametophobia (noun).

Synonym: sex cell, reproductive cell.
See also: gametogenesis, meiosis, syngamy.

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