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Methods Cell Biol. 2011;105:87-116. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-381320-6.00004-7.

Study of host-microbe interactions in zebrafish.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA.


All animals are ecosystems, home to diverse microbial populations. Animal-associated microbes play important roles in the normal development and physiology of their hosts, but can also be agents of infectious disease. Traditionally, mice have been used to study pathogenic and beneficial associations between microbes and vertebrate animals. The zebrafish is emerging as a valuable new model system for host-microbe interaction studies, affording researchers with the opportunity to survey large populations of hosts and to visualize microbe-host associations at a cellular level in living animals. This chapter provides detailed protocols for the analysis of zebrafish-associated microbial communities, the derivation and husbandry of germ-free zebrafish, and the modeling of infectious disease in different stages of zebrafish development via different routes of inoculation. These protocols offer a starting point for researchers to address a multitude of questions about animals' coexistence with microorganisms.

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