- germ layers
The main divisions of tissue types in multicellular organisms. Diploblastic organisms (eg. coelenterates) have two layers, ectoderm and endoderm; triploblastic organisms (all higher animal groups) have mesoderm between these two layers. Germ layers become distinguishable during late blastula/early gastrula stages of embryogenesis, and each gives rise to a characteristic set of tissues, the ectoderm to external epithelia and to the nervous system for example, although some tissues contain elements derived from two layers.
Dictionary of molecular biology. 2004.