Why Use The Zebrafish In Research?

Since the 1960s, the zebrafish (Danio rerio) has become increasingly important to scientific research. It has many characteristics that make it a valuable model for studying human genetics and disease.

The zebrafish is small and robust. They are cheaper to maintain than mice.

Zebrafish produce hundreds of offspring at weekly intervals providing scientists with an ample supply of embryos.

Zebrafish embryos are nearly transparent which allows researchers to easily examine the development of internal structures.

Zebrafish have a similar genetic structure to humans. They share 70 per cent of genes with us.

Break of daylight triggers mating in zebrafish (many other fish only lay eggs in the dark).

As a vertebrate, the zebrafish has the same major organs and tissues as humans. Their muscle, blood, kidney and eyes share many features with human systems.

The zebrafish genome has been fully sequenced to a very high quality. This has enabled scientists to create mutations in more than 14,000 genes to study their function.

Zebrafish have the unique ability to repair heart muscle. For example, if part of their heart is removed they can grow it back in a matter of weeks.

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