Egg Membranes

Most insects lay eggs in terrestrial environments. For the most part, an insect egg forms a self-reliant developmental system that is generally impervious to the external environment, although sensitive to temperature, which serves as an important cue for many developmental events. Insect eggs are typically quite large, both in absolute dimensions and relative to maternal body size, and well-provisioned with yolk. Eggs vary from about 0.02 to 20 mm in length. To prevent desiccation, they are covered by some of the most resistant and impenetrable egg coverings found in the animal kingdom. Egg contents are protected by a vitelline membrane and covered by an external hard shell, the chorion. The chorion, vitelline membrane, and egg membrane itself surround the internal contents of the fertilized egg: the zygote nucleus and two types of macromolecule. Nutritive material such as yolk proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates are used for nourishment and growth of the embryo. Patterning molecules (such as specialized proteins and mRNAs) direct major events in embryogenesis including establishment of embryonic polarity, segmentation, and gastrulation.

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