A radiating crown
The corona radiata (Latin, ‘radiating crown’) is the layer of cells that surrounds the oocyte (egg) as it develops in a follicle within the ovary. The cells remain attached to the oocyte after ovulation forming a barrier that must be overcome by spermatozoa before fertilization can take place and life can grow.
I have always been fascinated by the visual similarities between the incompletely divided oocyte, where fate controls the balance between life and death, and the anatomical center of our solar system - the sun.
Spherical similarities and a huge size differential aside, the oocyte, like the sun, is a source of life. Without the sun’s heat and light the earth itself would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock. It stirs our seas, mixes our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns and gives energy to the plants that provide us with food and oxygen.
But it is not this deep philosophizing that draws my attention when I see the oocyte in histology. It is that fascinating radiating crown of cells, the corona radiata. You see, the sun also shares this feature. A corona of high temperature plasma leaping from the surface just like those oocyte cells.
I wonder if this is Nature’s way of reminding us every morning, when the darkness gives way to light, that we all began as a ball of life with a radiating crown.