A group of cells in most multicellular animals which give rise to the reproductive cells. The genome of the animal as contained in these cells, along with any mutations which might arise in them (germinal mutations), can be passed on to offspring.

Also can refer to the appearance and conditions of the genome in the germ cells which may be different from within the somatic cells.

The development of a germ cell as originating from a cell in a zygote.

(09 Oct 1997)