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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 18;12(4):e0175420. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175420. eCollection 2017.

Further characterisation of differences between TL and AB zebrafish (Danio rerio): Gene expression, physiology and behaviour at day 5 of the larval stage.

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Department of Animal Ecology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have become popular as model organism in research. Many strains are readily available, which not only differ morphologically, but also genetically, physiologically and behaviourally. Here, we focus on the AB and Tupfel long-fin (TL) strain for which we have previously shown that adults differ in baseline hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal (HPI)-axis activity (AB higher than TL) affecting inhibitory avoidance behaviour (absent in AB). To assess whether strain differences are already present in early life stages, we compared baseline HPI-axis related gene expression as well as cortisol levels, (neuro)development related as well as (innate) immune system related gene expression, and light-dark as well as startle behaviour in larvae 5 days post fertilisation. The data show that AB and TL larvae differ in baseline HPI-axis activity (AB higher than TL), expression of (neuro)development and immune system related genes (AB higher than TL), habituation to acoustic/vibrational stimuli (AB habituate faster than TL) and light-dark induced changes in motor behaviour (AB stronger than TL). Our data show that already in larval stages differences exist between zebrafish of the AB and TL strain confirming and extending data of earlier studies. To what extent the mutation in connexin 41.8, leading to spots rather than stripes in TL, but also (possibly) affecting eye, heart and brain function, is involved in the expression of (some of) these differences needs to be studied. These results emphasise that differences between strains need to be taken into account to enhance reproducibility both within, and between, laboratories.

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