Go Fish!

Go Fish! A little striped minnow known as Zebrafish ( Danio rerio ) has a big impact on scientific research into human development and disease.

Why Fish? Fish eggs are laid in the water and fertilized externally, so they can be collected immediately. Embryos are transparent, making it easy to watch the development as it unfolds. In 24 hours, a single cell in a fertilized egg transforms into something that resembles a tiny fish– for a mouse this process takes around 21 days. Start by watching this 40 second clip of the first 24 hours of the life of a fish. I promise the last few seconds hold a special delight!

Zebrafish embryo development – 24 hours in 46 seconds

Then see this stunning choreography of all 16,000 individual cells of a live embryo revealed by laser fluorescent microscopy. Images were acquired at 1.5 billion voxels per minute to give us digital embryos that are the first complete record of cell positions, divisions, and migratory tracks of any vertebrate animal. The entire database, including 15 movies, has been made available to the public.

Zebrafish development tracked cell by cell

Fish for Fun. Originally from the Ganges river and endemic to the Himalayan region of the world, zebrafish are widely available, cheap and easy to breed in a tank. For fun, a fanstastic colorful array of engineered GloFish® are sold in aquariums: GloFish® Fluorescent Fish Video! (Blue/Actinic Light)

Fishy Fact. Did you know that an important determinant of skin color was discovered by researchers intrigued by the golden hued zebrafish? The gene SLC24A5 codes for a sodium/calcium/potassium exchanger in pigment cells (melanocytes). A single nucleotide polymorphism alters the activity of the transporter and the development of pigment. Humans of European ancestry have the threonine variant resulting in lighter skin, whereas people of East Asian, indigenous American and African descent have alanine in this position. Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLC24A5

Sources: Sources: http://www.fishforscience.com/


For #ScienceSunday curated by Allison Sekuler and Robby Bowles .

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26 Responses to Go Fish!

  1. Rich Pollett says:

    Great post and beautifully done, love the links included, However something fishy as well as sciency here. Thanks! 🙂

  2. O wondrous wonderful wonder of wonders!

    Thank you Rajini


  3. Sherri Vance says:

    Rajini, your posts never fail to delight …thank you!

  4. I’ve kept these before!

  5. Rajini Rao says:

    Cool, Michael Griffith ! They’re also called Danios.

  6. Yeah, they are very common in pet shops here. Due to how hardy they are I usually use them to start up a new tank. Also, they glow under UV 🙂

  7. Bill DeWitt says:

    Got some in my little indoor pond. Busy little buggers.

  8. You should have put these in four separate posts: get four times as many +1’s that way. 🙂 The digital embryo was truly stunning. I especially liked what looked like little spreading ripples of change in the beginning, and also the fact that the scale seems to smoothly change by about 13 times from beginning to end. By my arithmetic, that is over 2000 times larger by weight, in 18 hrs or so.

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    Hi stefan jeffers , did you see this one: Awesome film of zebrafish embryo development

    It tracks the cells by their direction of movement. You can see bilateral symmetry appear from what begins as radial symmetry.

    Good thing I didn’t add more information to this post then..I had more to share 😉

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Siamak Manzarpour We are all built on a bilateral symmetry plan (left and right sides) which can be seen to emerge very early in the embryo. In the paper, the researchers describe the symmetry breaking event that converts the embryo from radial to bilateral. Once the symmetry plan appears, the body axes can be accurately predicted.

  11. DaFreak says:

    I agree with stefan jeffers, this post is a treasure! ^^

    “All 16,000 individual cells of a live embryo revealed by laser fluorescent microscopy. Images were acquired at 1.5 billion voxels per minute to give us digital embryos that are the first complete record of cell positions, divisions, and migratory tracks”

    That. blew. my. mind. Amazing footage!

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    Koen De Paus , I took a look at the fish embryo database but the individual movies were too large to upload. I read that they gathered 3.5 terabytes of data..so I stuck with a simple animated gif instead 😉

  13. Rajini Rao says:

    Terrific additions, both, to this post, Drew Sowersby – thank you so much for the generous share! People like you make G+ awesome 🙂

    P.S. I wanted to write about morpholino oligos, which are used commonly in zebrafish to knock down genes. Perhaps another post…

  14. Tom Lee says:

    Rajini Rao Another nice post, this time a fish post. A lot of educational and interesting post as usual. It will be many shares and comments just like the last posts. Sooner or later you will dominate this Google+, and I’m serious about this. You’ve been of classic rock music, violin rock, Bowie, Queen. Morrison, cells, students in Indonesia, bio-chemistry,…now fish., What subjects you haven’t touched ?, bring them on!

  15. Rajini Rao says:

    Tom Lee , I aspire to reach legendary status like your uncle who can always count on a latte for bribe before he divulges the treasures of his classic vinyl collection. Imagine, the advantage I will have in the future, when I am a tottering old dame and the price of Starbucks coffee is ever exorbitant. I may even get a biscotti with the latte if I’m considered truly wise 🙂

  16. Tom Lee says:

    You shouldn’t wait that long for that Starbucks, you can ask for it now, LOL!

  17. So interesting (and my son’s favorite kind of fish!) Thanks.

  18. josem mo says:

    Amazing, makes me think in a contemplative way, how amazing living creatures in this universe. Then how amazing the “engineer(s) and/or scientist(s) and/or creator(s)”, if any, who designed that tiny cell reproduction. As you know some people call him/them as God(s).

    (That creature is alive.)

    Another interesting fact related to the melanocytes, is Mongolian Spot** found in all Asian infants of Mongoloid races, as well as some other races:

    East Asian: 95-100%, East African: 90-95%, Native American: 80-85%, Gypsies: 85-90%, Hispanic: 50-70%, Caucasian descent: 5-10% (Southern European: 40 – 45%), and around 90% of Polynesians and Micronesians.


    **Mongolian spots are caused by entrapment of melanocytes in the dermis during their migration from the neural crest into the epidermis in fetal development.

    note: I thought about that Mongolian spot, because of today (Jan 23rd) is Chinese New Year 🙂

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    jose montarig , very interesting information about Mongolian spots! I had never heard of them until my daughter was born. She was covered with odd shaped indigo-blue patches that stood out from her creamy skin. I was shocked until the nurse quickly explained what they were. My mother confirmed that I had them too as a newborn. It took years for them to fade away. Some of them were a really intense blue. The nurse also advised me to let her day caregivers/nannies know what they were in case we were reported for child abuse! 🙂 Fascinating, now I know, thank you!

  20. josem mo says:

    Rajini Rao True, it has been misunderstood for long time as bruises caused by child abuse 🙂

  21. Yeah, read it here before: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/cb100029t. But surely that was not as much fun:-)

  22. Azad IS says:

    Rajini.. nice post. I was also fascinated by the research work done by Dr. Byrappa Venkatesh and his team at Molecular Biology lab in Singapore. The genome work on elephant sharks and the Fugu. Really the fish are fascinating Gate-ways into the vertebrate understandings. Cool Field and I am proud to be in it….

  23. S it has the power to regenerate its eyes

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