Pig Development

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Sow and piglet.

Pig (Sus scrofa) developmental model is studied extensively due to the commercial applications of pigs for meat production and for health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and organ transplantation (xenotransplantation).

Historically, there is an excellent description of the pig reproductive estrous cycle and the cyclic changes that occur within the ovary.[1]

Pig Links: Introduction | Estrous Cycle | Pig Embryo Development Plates (1897) | Estrous and Implantation (1921) | Limb Arteries (1922) | Category:Pig

Some Recent Findings

Historic drawing of early limb vasculature.
  • Porcine Pluripotent Stem Cells Derived from IVF Embryos Contribute to Chimeric Development In Vivo[2] "Here, we derived a porcine pluripotent stem cell (pPSC) line from day 5.5 blastocysts in a newly developed culture system based on MXV medium and a 5% oxygen atmosphere. The pPSCs had been passaged more than 75 times over two years, and the morphology of the colony was similar to that of human embryonic stem cells."
  • An In Vivo Three-Dimensional Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Based Averaged Brain Collection of the Neonatal Piglet[3] "Due to the fact that morphology and perinatal growth of the piglet brain is similar to humans, use of the piglet as a translational animal model for neurodevelopmental studies is increasing. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be a powerful tool to study neurodevelopment in piglets, but many of the MRI resources have been produced for adult humans. Here, we present an average in vivo MRI-based atlas specific for the 4-week-old piglet." (More? Neural System - Postnatal)
  • A gene expression atlas of the domestic pig[4] "As an important livestock animal with a physiology that is more similar than mouse to man, we provide a major new resource for understanding gene expression with respect to the known physiology of mammalian tissues and cells. The data and analyses are available on the websites http://biogps.org and http://www.macrophages.com/pig-atlas."
  • How pig sperm prepares to fertilize[5]"We propose that this capacitation driven membrane docking and stability thereof is a preparative step prior to the multipoint membrane fusions characteristic for the acrosome reaction induced by sperm-zona binding."
  • Axial differentiation and early gastrulation stages of the pig embryo[6] "Differentiation of the principal body axes in the early vertebrate embryo is based on a specific blueprint of gene expression and a series of transient axial structures such as Hensen's node and the notochord of the late gastrulation phase. ... Intriguingly, the round shape and gradual posterior displacement of the APD in the pig appear to be species-specific (differing from all other mammals studied in detail to date) but correlate with ensuing specific primitive streak and extraembryonic mesoderm development. APD and, hence, the earliest axial structure presently known in the mammalian embryo may thus be functionally involved in shaping extraembryonic membranes and, possibly, the specific adult body form."
More recent papers
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This table shows an automated computer PubMed search using the listed sub-heading term.

  • Therefore the list of references do not reflect any editorial selection of material based on content or relevance.
  • References appear in this list based upon the date of the actual page viewing.

References listed on the rest of the content page and the associated discussion page (listed under the publication year sub-headings) do include some editorial selection based upon both relevance and availability.

Links: References | Discussion Page | Pubmed Most Recent | Journal Searches

Search term: Pig Embryology

K V Papageorgiou, I Grivas, M Chiotelli, E Panteris, N Papaioannou, H Nauwynck, S K Kritas Myelin Sheath Development in the Maxillary Nerve of the Newborn Pig. Anat Histol Embryol: 2016; PubMed 27194445

Andrea Bähr, Tobias Käser, Elisabeth Kemter, Wilhelm Gerner, Mayuko Kurome, Wiebke Baars, Nadja Herbach, Kirsti Witter, Annegret Wünsch, Stephanie C Talker, Barbara Kessler, Hiroshi Nagashima, Armin Saalmüller, Reinhard Schwinzer, Eckhard Wolf, Nikolai Klymiuk Ubiquitous LEA29Y Expression Blocks T Cell Co-Stimulation but Permits Sexual Reproduction in Genetically Modified Pigs. PLoS ONE: 2016, 11(5);e0155676 PubMed 27175998

J Numberger, M Ritzmann, N Übel, M Eddicks, S Reese, S Zöls Ear tagging in piglets: the cortisol response with and without analgesia in comparison with castration and tail docking. Animal: 2016;1-7 PubMed 27146422

Gokhan Guven, B Alper Gultekin, Gamze Senol Guven, Elif Guzel, Selenay Furat, Selim Ersanli Histologic and Histomorphometric Comparison of Bone Regeneration Between Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 and Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-BB in Experimental Groups. J Craniofac Surg: 2016; PubMed 27092911

M Eddicks, M Koeppen, S Willi, R Fux, S Reese, G Sutter, J Stadler, M Ritzmann Low prevalence of porcine circovirus type 2 infections in farrowing sows and corresponding pre-suckling piglets in southern German pig farms. Vet. Microbiol.: 2016, 187;70-4 PubMed 27066711


Taxonomy ID: 9823

Genbank common name: pig

Inherited blast name: even-toed ungulates

Rank: species

Genetic code: Translation table 1 (Standard)

Mitochondrial genetic code: Translation table 2 (Vertebrate Mitochondrial)

Other names: wild boar, swine, pigs

Lineage (full): cellular organisms; Eukaryota; Fungi/Metazoa group; Metazoa; Eumetazoa; Bilateria; Coelomata; Deuterostomia; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Gnathostomata; Teleostomi; Euteleostomi; Sarcopterygii; Tetrapoda; Amniota; Mammalia; Theria; Eutheria; Laurasiatheria; Cetartiodactyla; Suina; Suidae; Sus

Animal Models

Postnatal Animal Models[7] Mouse Rat Pig
Pregnancy period (days) 18 – 21 21 – 23 110 – 118
Placenta type Discoidal, decidual
hemoendothelial choroidea
Discoidal, decidual
hemoendothelial choroidea
Litter size 6 – 12 6 – 15 11 – 16
Birth weight (g) 0.5 – 1.5 3 – 5 900 – 1600
Weaning weight male/female (g) 18 – 25/16 – 25 55 – 90/45 – 80 6000 – 8000
Suckling period (days) 21–28 21 28–49
Solid diet beginning (days) 10 12 12 – 15
Puberty male/female (week) 4 – 6/5 6/6 – 8 20 – 28
Life expectancy (years) 1 - 2 2 - 3 14 – 18

Normal Stages

The images below are from the 1897 Normentafeln zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Wirbeltiere - Sus scrofa domesticus (Normal Plates of the Development of the Pig Embryo) by Franz Keibel

Normal Plates Series: 1 Pig (1897) | 2 Chicken (1900) | 3 Lungfish (1901) | 4 Sand Lizard (1904) | 5 Rabbit (1905) | 6 Deer (1906) | 7 Tarsiers (1907) | 8 Human (1908) | 9 Northern Lapwing (1909) | 10 South American and African Lungfish (1909) | 11 Salamander (1910) | Franz Keibel | Embryology History

Uterus and Ovary


Diagram showing form and dimensions of the uterus and Fallopian tubes of the sow.[8] Drawn from an average specimen taken from a young mature animal.

Estrous Cycle

Female pig is called a sow.



Events of the average cycle of 21 days in the non-pregnant sow.[8]

Diagram showing relationship between oestrua, ovulation, corpus luteum development, and the progress of the ova in the sow.



Events of the first weeks of pregnancy.[8]

Diagram showing relationship between oestrua, ovulation, corpus luteum development, and the progress of the ova in the sow.

Pig - uterine epithelium SEM.jpg

Scanning electron microscope images of the endometrial surface of a Day 13 pregnant sow.[9]

Male Pig

Male pig is called a boar.

Pig sperm capacitation 02.jpg

Capacitation alters the ultrastructure of the apical head and the acrosome of boar sperm.[10]

Model capacitation-induced acrosome docking to sperm membrane.jpg

Model for capacitation-induced stable docking of the acrosome to the sperm plasma membrane.[5]

Pig Development

[[File:Keibel1897_plate01.jpg|thumb|400px|Images of pig development from 1897 book plate.

  • The gestation period of a pig is 112 to 114 days.
  • Female pigs can become pregnant at around 8 to 18 months of age.
  • The pig has an estrus cycle occurring every 21 days if not bred.
  • Male pigs become sexually active at 8 to 10 months of age.
  • Embryos begin to attach to the uterus on days 13–14 of pregnancy.
  • Day 15-20 implanted and expansion of allantois.
  • A litter of piglets is between 6 and 12 piglets.

Data For Carnegie Stages Comparison Graph (Species/Days)

Species Stage
Human Days 20 22 24 28 30 33 36 40 42 44 48 52 54 55 58
Pig Days 14 15 16 17 18 19 20.5 21.5 23 24 25.5 27.5 29 30.5 32.5

Links: Carnegie Stage Comparison

Neural Development

The data below is summarised from an excellent study of early neural development in the pig.[11] The same authors have studied neural development in the rabbit.

  • 7 somite embryo - first apposition of the neural folds occurs at somite levels 5-7. (corresponds to closure site I in mouse).
  • next stage - rostral and caudal parts of the rhombencephalic folds appose, leaving an opening in between.
    • at this stage four neuropores can be distinguished, of which the anterior and posterior ones will remain open longest. (two rhombencephalic closure sites have no counterpart in the mouse, but do have some resemblance to those of the rabbit)

anterior neuropore

  • closes in three phases
  1. dorsal folds slowly align and then close instantaneously, the slow progression being likely due to a counteracting effect of the mesencephalic flexure
  2. dorso-lateral folds close in a zipper-like fashion in caudo-rostral direction
  3. final round aperture is likely to close by circumferential growth.

22 somite embryo - anterior neuropore is completely closed. (closure sites for the anterior neuropore in mouse embryo, none of these were detected in the pig embryo)

posterior neuropore

  • closes initially very fast in the somitic region, but this process almost stops thereafter.
  • stage 20-22 somites the posterior neuropore suddenly reduces in size but thereafter a small neuropore remains for 5 somite stages.
  • closure of the posterior neuropore is completed at the stage of 28 somites.

8-20 somite embryos - the width of the posterior neuropore does not change, while the rate of closure gradually increases.

Additional Images


  1. Corner, G.W., Cyclic changes in the ovaries and uterus of swine, and their relations to the mechanism of implantation. Contributions to Embryology Carnegie Institution, 1922, No.64 117-146.
  2. Binghua Xue, Yan Li, Yilong He, Renyue Wei, Ruizhen Sun, Zhi Yin, Gerelchimeg Bou, Zhonghua Liu Porcine Pluripotent Stem Cells Derived from IVF Embryos Contribute to Chimeric Development In Vivo. PLoS ONE: 2016, 11(3);e0151737 PubMed 26991423
  3. Matthew S Conrad, Bradley P Sutton, Ryan N Dilger, Rodney W Johnson An In Vivo Three-Dimensional Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Based Averaged Brain Collection of the Neonatal Piglet (Sus scrofa). PLoS ONE: 2014, 9(9);e107650 PubMed 25254955 | PLoS One.
  4. Tom C Freeman, Alasdair Ivens, J Kenneth Baillie, Dario Beraldi, Mark W Barnett, David Dorward, Alison Downing, Lynsey Fairbairn, Ronan Kapetanovic, Sobia Raza, Andru Tomoiu, Ramiro Alberio, Chunlei Wu, Andrew I Su, Kim M Summers, Christopher K Tuggle, Alan L Archibald, David A Hume A gene expression atlas of the domestic pig. BMC Biol.: 2012, 10;90 PubMed 23153189
  5. 5.0 5.1 Pei-Shiue Tsai, Núria Garcia-Gil, Theo van Haeften, Bart M Gadella How pig sperm prepares to fertilize: stable acrosome docking to the plasma membrane. PLoS ONE: 2010, 5(6);e11204 PubMed 20585455
  6. Romia Hassoun, Peter Schwartz, Kerstin Feistel, Martin Blum, Christoph Viebahn Axial differentiation and early gastrulation stages of the pig embryo. Differentiation: 2009, 78(5);301-11 PubMed 19683851
  7. Francisco J Pérez-Cano, Àngels Franch, Cristina Castellote, Margarida Castell The suckling rat as a model for immunonutrition studies in early life. Clin. Dev. Immunol.: 2012, 2012;537310 PubMed 22899949 | PMC3415261 | Clin Dev Immunol.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Corner, G.W., Cyclic changes in the ovaries and uterus of swine, and their relations to the mechanism of implantation. Carnegie Institution - Contributions to Embryology No.64 (1922) 117-146.
  9. Qian Ren, Shu Guan, Jinluan Fu, Aiguo Wang Temporal and spatial expression of Muc1 during implantation in sows. Int J Mol Sci: 2010, 11(6);2322-35 PubMed 20640155 | PMC2904919
  10. Pei-Shiue Tsai, Núria Garcia-Gil, Theo van Haeften, Bart M Gadella How pig sperm prepares to fertilize: stable acrosome docking to the plasma membrane. PLoS ONE: 2010, 5(6);e11204 PubMed 20585455 | PLoS One.
  11. H W van Straaten, M C Peeters, J W Hekking, T van der Lende Neurulation in the pig embryo. Anat. Embryol.: 2000, 202(2);75-84 PubMed 10985427

Recent References


Tamás Somfai, Kazuhiro Kikuchi, Takashi Nagai Factors affecting cryopreservation of porcine oocytes. J. Reprod. Dev.: 2012, 58(1);17-24 PubMed 22450280

Esben Ostrup, Poul Hyttel, Olga Ostrup Embryo-maternal communication: signalling before and during placentation in cattle and pig. Reprod. Fertil. Dev.: 2011, 23(8);964-75 PubMed 22127002

Agnieszka Waclawik Novel insights into the mechanisms of pregnancy establishment: regulation of prostaglandin synthesis and signaling in the pig. Reproduction: 2011, 142(3);389-99 PubMed 21677026

O W Robison Growth patterns in swine. J. Anim. Sci.: 1976, 42(4);1024-35 PubMed 770410

S A Book, L K Bustad The fetal and neonatal pig in biomedical research. J. Anim. Sci.: 1974, 38(5);997-1002 PubMed 4596894

R M Moor Foetal homeostasis: conceptus-ovary endocrine balance. Proc. R. Soc. Med.: 1968, 61(11 Pt 2);1217-26 PubMed 4973146

R M Moor Effect of embryo on corpus luteum function. J. Anim. Sci.: 1968, 27 Suppl 1;97-118 PubMed 4951167


Romia Hassoun, Peter Schwartz, Detlef Rath, Christoph Viebahn, Jörg Männer Germ layer differentiation during early hindgut and cloaca formation in rabbit and pig embryos. J. Anat.: 2010, 217(6);665-78 PubMed 20874819

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External Links

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Historic Embryology
1897 Pig | 1900 Chicken | 1901 Lungfish | 1904 Sand Lizard | 1905 Rabbit | 1906 Deer | 1907 Tarsiers | 1908 Human | 1909 Northern Lapwing | 1909 South American and African Lungfish | 1910 Salamander | 1951 Frog | Embryology History | Historic Disclaimer

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2016) Embryology Pig Development. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Pig_Development

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© Dr Mark Hill 2016, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G