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Methods. 2013 Aug 15;62(3):268-78. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2013.03.015. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

In vivo imaging of zebrafish embryogenesis.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus, 19700 Helix Drive, Ashburn, VA 20147, USA.


The zebrafish Danio rerio has emerged as a powerful vertebrate model system that lends itself particularly well to quantitative investigations with live imaging approaches, owing to its exceptionally high optical clarity in embryonic and larval stages. Recent advances in light microscopy technology enable comprehensive analyses of cellular dynamics during zebrafish embryonic development, systematic mapping of gene expression dynamics, quantitative reconstruction of mutant phenotypes and the system-level biophysical study of morphogenesis. Despite these technical breakthroughs, it remains challenging to design and implement experiments for in vivo long-term imaging at high spatio-temporal resolution. This article discusses the fundamental challenges in zebrafish long-term live imaging, provides experimental protocols and highlights key properties and capabilities of advanced fluorescence microscopes. The article focuses in particular on experimental assays based on light sheet-based fluorescence microscopy, an emerging imaging technology that achieves exceptionally high imaging speeds and excellent signal-to-noise ratios, while minimizing light-induced damage to the specimen. This unique combination of capabilities makes light sheet microscopy an indispensable tool for the in vivo long-term imaging of large developing organisms.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Fluorescence microscopy; Image processing; In vivo imaging; Light sheet microscopy; Quantitative developmental biology; Zebrafish

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