What is the Difference Between Sperm and Ovum

The main difference between sperm and ovum is that the sperm is the male gamete whereas the ovum is the female gamete.

Sperm and ovum are the two types of gametes, occurring in both plant and animal kingdoms. These gametes are involved in reproduction. To be specific, the gamete is the reproductive cell of higher organisms.

Key Areas Covered

  1. What is Sperm
    • Definition, Anatomy, Function
  2. What is Ovum
    • Definition, Anatomy, Function
  3. Similarities Between Sperm and Ovum
    • Outline of Common Features
  4. Difference Between Sperm and Ovum
    • Comparison with Key Differences

Key Terms

Reproduction, Ovum, SpermSperm vs Ovum - Comparison Summary

What is Sperm

Sperm is the male gamete of plants and animals. Specifically, the smaller reproductive cell is the sperm. The formation of sperm occurs in a process called spermatogenesis in mammals and reptiles. It occurs in the seminiferous tubules of testes. There, spermatogonia are the precursor sperm cells that differentiate into spermatocytes. Then, spermatids are the next level of cells formed when spermatocytes undergo meiosis. These cells contain half the number of chromosomes. In animals, these spermatids mature into motile, mature sperm cells. Plants also produce motile sperm cells.

Compare Sperm and Ovum - What's the difference?

Figure 1: Sperm Anatomy

Furthermore, the main function of the sperm cell is to reach the ovum, the female reproductive cell, and fuse with it to deliver the male pronucleus.

What is Ovum

The ovum is the female reproductive cell of higher organisms, being a larger and non-motile cell. In algae, fungi, and bryophytes, the ovum is non-motile. Concerning its formation, oogenesis is the process of ova formation. In vertebrates, they form inside gonads while in oviparous organisms, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and most fish, ova come out of the body through the oviduct. However, in plants, ova form inside archegonia. They occur in the ovule.

Sperm vs Ovum

Figure 2: The Ovum

Moreover, the main function of the ovum is to carry half number of chromosomes to fuse with the sperm.  

Similarities Between sperm and Ovum

  • Both sperm and ovum are the two types of reproductive cells in animals and plants.
  • Most ova are large in size compared to sperms.
  • They fuse to each other and their function is to help in reproduction.
  • Therefore, they contain half the number of chromosomes.

Difference Between Sperm and Ovum

Definition

The sperm refers to the male reproductive cell while the ovum refers to the female reproductive cell.

Size

Generally, the sperm is smaller while the ovum is large.

Anatomy

Moreover, the sperm contains a head and tail while the ovum is round in shape.

Motility

Usually, the sperm is motile and the ovum is non-motile.

Formation

Spermatogenesis is the formation process of sperm while oogenesis is the process of formation of the ovum.

Function

The function of the sperm is to fuse with the ovum while the function of the ovum is to carry genetic material.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the sperm is the male reproductive cell that is small and motile. It contains a head and a tail. And, spermatogenesis is the process of sperm formation. In general, the main function of the sperm is to fuse to the ovum during the process of reproduction. In contrast, the ovum is the female reproductive cell that is larger but, non-motile. However, it is round in shape. Usually, the ovum is formed in the process called oogenesis. Moreover, the function of the ovum is to carry genetic material. Therefore, the main difference between sperms and ovum is their sex.

References:
  1. Lee Y, Kang E. Stem cells and reproduction. BMB Rep. 2019 Aug;52(8):482-489. doi: 10.5483/BMBRep.2019.52.8.141. PMID: 31234956; PMCID: PMC6726211. 
Image Courtesy:
  1. Complete diagram of a human spermatozoa en” By Mariana Ruiz Villarreal- Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Gray3” By Henry Vandyke Carter – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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