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Diagram of vitellogenesis in the digenean Crepidostomum metoecus [1]

Vitellogenesis (also known as yolk deposition) is the process of yolk formation via nutrients being deposited in the oocyte, or female germ cell involved in reproduction of lecithotrophic organisms. In insects, it starts when the fat body stimulates the release of juvenile hormones and produces vitellogenin protein. It occurs in all animal groups other than the mammals. In cockroaches, for example, vitellogenesis can be stimulated by injection of juvenile hormone into immature females and mature males.Chemically yolk is lipoprotein composed of proteins, phospholipids and neutral fats along with a small amount of glycogen.The yolk is synthesised in the liver of the female parent in soluble form.Through circulation it is transported to the follicle cells that surround the maturing ovum, and is deposited in the form of yolk platelets and granules in the ooplasm.The mitochondria and Golgi complex are said to bring about the conversion of the soluble form of yolk into insoluble granules or platelets.

In mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium, vitellogenesis may be manipulated by the parasites to reduce fecundity.[2]

In mammalian vitellogenesis, vitellogenin is the major protein, produced by the Vit gene and regulated by oestrogen. The yolk consists of lipids (triglycerides, cholesterol etc.) and proteins, mainly vitellogenin.

Summary of the main patterns of yolk accumulation and cleavage in animal embryology (after [3] and [4]).
I. Holoblastic (complete) cleavage II. Meroblastic (incomplete) cleavage

A. Isolecithal (sparse, evenly distributed yolk)

B. Mesolecithal (moderate vegetal yolk disposition)

A. Telolecithal (dense yolk throughout most of cell)

B. Centrolecithal (yolk in center of egg)

  • Superficial cleavage (most insects)


  1. ^ Greani, Samuel; Quilichini, Yann; Marchand, Bernard (2016). "Ultrastructural study of vitellogenesis and oogenesis of Crepidostomum metoecus (Digenea, Allocreadiidae), intestinal parasite of Salmo trutta (Pisces, Teleostei)". Parasite. 23: 47. doi:10.1051/parasite/2016057. ISSN 1776-1042. PMC 5112763. PMID 27845028. open access
  2. ^ Hurd, Hilary (2003). "Manipulation of medically important insect vectors by their parasites". Annual Review of Entomology. 48 (1): 141–161. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.48.091801.112722. ISSN 0066-4170.
  3. ^ Gilbert SF (2003). Developmental biology (7th ed.). Sinauer. p. 214. ISBN 0-87893-258-5.
  4. ^ Kardong, Kenneth V. (2006). Vertebrates: Comparative Anatomy, Function, Evolution (4th ed.). McGraw-Hill. pp. 158–64.