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sperm

sperm or spermatozoon spûr˝mətəzō´ən, –zō´ŏn [key], in biology, the male gamete (sex cell), corresponding to the female ovum in organisms that reproduce sexually. In higher animals the sperm is produced in the testis of the male it is much smaller than the ovum and consists primarily of a head, whose nucleus bears the hereditary material (see chromosome ) of the male parent, and a slender whiplike process (flagellum), which provides the motility necessary for fertilization in a fluid medium. In higher plants the sperm is contained in the pollen grain and is conveyed to the ovum by the pollen tube in some lower plants (e.g., mosses and ferns) the sperm is actively motile.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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