LONDON The genome of the zebrafish Danio rerio is to be deciphered by a dedicated team at Britain's Sanger Centre. The project to sequence the zebrafish's 1.7 x 109 base-pair genome — about half the size of that of the mouse or human genome — is expected to take three years. As with all projects undertaken by the Sanger Centre, the sequence information will be released rapidly and made available to researchers without cost or restriction.

Researchers will then be able to use this model organism to "fill in the gaps" in biological processes already under investigation in yeast, flies and worms, says Professor Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard from the Max-Planck Institute in Tubingen, who received a Nobel Prize in 1995 for her work on Drosophila and in the past decade has turned her attention to zebrafish. Even more importantly, perhaps, the fish "will make an enormous contribution to our understanding...

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