© Mark Smith/Photo Researchers

The slim, striped zebrafish, one of the newest and wettest members of the model organism family, has attributes that researchers look for: size, fecundity, and low maintenance costs. Toss in a couple more assets--its visible internal development, and its genetic similarity to mice and humans--and this fish's return-on-investment increases. But it arguably would not have gained its formidable reputation had it not responded so well to new techniques.

Studied initially to understand development of the cardiovascular and neurological systems, these popular aquarium pets have been subjected to large and small screens, fluorescently labeled and fed quenched fluorescent phospholipids; their embryos' nuclei have posed for high-resolution time-lapse pictures.1 Researchers have developed knockdown fish technologies and also are using techniques that previously belonged to the dominion of plant scientists. Forward genetics techniques propelled the diminutive teleost into the hearts and labs of life science researchers; reverse genetics...

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