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Behav Genet. 2003 Sep;33(5):461-8.

Zebra fish: an uncharted behavior genetic model.

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Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto at Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road North, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada.


The zebra fish has been a preferred subject of genetic analysis. It produces a large number of offspring that can be kept in small aquaria, it can be easily mutagenized using chemical mutagens (e.g., ethyl nitrosourea [ENU]), and high-resolution genetic maps exist that aid identification of novel genes. Libraries containing large numbers of mutant fish have been generated, and the genetic mechanisms of the development of zebra fish, whose embryo is transparent, have been extensively studied. Given the extensive homology of its genome with that of other vertebrate species including our own and given the available genetic tools, zebra fish has become a popular model organism. Despite this popularity, however, surprisingly little is known about its behavior. It is argued that behavioral analysis is a powerful tool with which the function of the brain may be studied, and the zebra fish will represent an excellent subject of such analysis. The present paper is a proof of concept study that uses pharmacological manipulation (exposure to alcohol) to show that the zebra fish is amenable to the behavioral genetic analysis of aggression and thus may allow us to reveal molecular mechanisms of this behavioral phenomenon relevant to vertebrates.

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