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Abstract

The purpose was to determine the sites, times and frequency of mitotic activity in primordial germ cells in the white Leghorn chick embryo during the period of migration. Colchicine was employed to facilitate the identification of dividing germ cells in embryos ranging in age from 18 hours to five days of incubation (stages 3–27). An increase in the number of germ cells was observed during the period of migration, due primarily to proliferation of intraembryonic cells, since no significant increase in the number of extra-embryonic germ cells was seen during this period. The number of germ cells during this period ranged from 43 at 18 hours to 2211 at 120 hours. Two periods of intense proliferation were observed, the first between 48 and 72, the second between 96 and 120 hours. This coincided with a simultaneous increase in the number of germ cells during these periods. Dividing germ cells were present in the extraembryonic blood vessels anterior, lateral and posterior to the embryo at 28, 48 and 72 hours and within the intra-embryonic circulatory network at 48, 72, 96 and 120 hours. At 72, 96 and 120 hours, dividing germ cells were numerous in the tissues of the dorsal mesentery adjacent to the developing gonads and within the gonads. Dividing germ cells were also located in head mesenchyme, limb buds and mesenchyme surrounding the notochord-neural tube complex. Dividing germ cells were found in the chick embryo throughout the entire migratory period.