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Mar Biotechnol (NY). 2006 Jul-Aug;8(4):329-45. Epub 2006 Apr 25.

Learning from small fry: the zebrafish as a genetic model organism for aquaculture fish species.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology, D-72076, Tübingen, Germany.


In recent years, the zebrafish has become one of the most prominent vertebrate model organisms used to study the genetics underlying development, normal body function, and disease. The growing interest in zebrafish research was paralleled by an increase in tools and methods available to study zebrafish. While zebrafish research initially centered on mutagenesis screens (forward genetics), recent years saw the establishment of reverse genetic methods (morpholino knock-down, TILLING). In addition, increasingly sophisticated protocols for generating transgenic zebrafish have been developed and microarrays are now available to characterize gene expression on a near genome-wide scale. The identification of loci underlying specific traits is aided by genetic, physical, and radiation hybrid maps of the zebrafish genome and the zebrafish genome project. As genomic resources for aquacultural species are increasingly being generated, a meaningful interaction between zebrafish and aquacultural research now appears to be possible and beneficial for both sides. In particular, research on nutrition and growth, stress, and disease resistance in the zebrafish can be expected to produce results applicable to aquacultural fish, for example, by improving husbandry and formulated feeds. Forward and reverse genetics approaches in the zebrafish, together with the known conservation of synteny between the species, offer the potential to identify and verify candidate genes for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) to be used in marker-assisted breeding. Moreover, some technologies from the zebrafish field such as TILLING may be directly transferable to aquacultural research and production.

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