Organogenesis and Vertebrate Formation

Free Response

Explain how the different germ layers give rise to different tissue types.


Organs form from the germ layers through the process of differentiation. During differentiation, the embryonic stem cells express a specific set of genes that will determine their ultimate fate as a cell type. For example, some cells in the ectoderm will express the genes specific to skin cells. As a result, these cells will differentiate into epidermal cells. The process of differentiation is regulated by cellular signaling cascades.

Explain the role of axis formation in development.


Animal bodies have lateral-medial (left-right), dorsal-ventral (back-belly), and anterior-posterior (head-feet) axes. The dorsal cells are genetically programmed to form the notochord and define the axis. There are many genes responsible for axis formation. Mutations in these genes lead to the loss of symmetry required for organism development.