School Biology notes: Cell specialisation 4. Stem cells and reproduction
Cell specialisation: 4. Stem cells and human reproduction
Doc Brown's GCSE level Biology exam study revision notes
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(4) Explaining the role of animal stem cells and human reproduction
Stem cells are undifferentiated and have not changed into a specialised cells in the developing embryo.
In human embryos the cells are unspecialised as far as the eight cell stage after three cell divisions by mitosis.
The process of stem cells becoming specialised is called cell differentiation.
Cell differentiation enables the embryo to grow and develop tissues - groups of specialised cells working together to perform a particular function e.g. skin, muscle, organs etc.
Adults also have stem cells in their bone marrow (spongy tissue in bones) but these can only be converted into a few specific type of cells - so only quite limited specialisation is possible.
All body cells contain the same genes, this differs from specialised cells in which most genes are not active.
Summary of learning objectives and key words or phrases
Be able to explain the role of animal stem cells in human reproduction and development of the foetus in the embryo and development into the birth of a baby.
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