Ectocarpus siliculosus, female gamete surrounded by male gametes.
This view is still maintained by those who differentiate two acts of fertilization within the embryo-sac, and regard that of the egg by the first male-cell, as the true or generative fertilization, and that of the polar nuclei by the second male gamete as a vegetative fertilization which gives a stimulus to development in correlation with the other.
Usually, however, only one of the fusing cells is a zoogamete, the other gamete being a much larger resting cell.
In such a case the zoogamete is male, is called an antherozoid or spermatozoid, and arises in an antheridium; the larger gamete is an oosphere and arises in an oogonium.
From a comparison of those Euchlorophyceae which have been most closely investigated, it appears probable that sexual reproductive cells have in the course of evolution arisen as the result of specialization among asexual reproductive cells, and that in turn oogamous reproduction has arisen as the result of differentiation of the two conjugating cells into the smaller male gamete and the larger male gamete.
In Sirogonium there is cell-division in the parent-cell prior to conjugation; and as two segments are cut off in the case of the active gamete, and only one in the case of the passive gamete, there is a corresponding difference of size, marking another step in the sexual differentiation.