Zebrafish as a model for Vertebrate Development

TitleZebrafish as a model for Vertebrate Development
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsMcPherson, Katrina
Academic DepartmentBiochemistry/Biophysics
Thesis AdvisorBarnes, David
DegreeBachelor of Arts in international Studies in Biochemistry/Biophysics
Number of Pages18
Date Published06/1997
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
KeywordsBiochemistry, Biophysics, early development, genes, Max Planck Institute, Zebrafish

The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been one of the primary models for developmental genetics since the beginning of this century. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, who is presently director of the Department of Genetics of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tubingen, Germany, was one of three developmental biologists who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1995 for work in discovering the genes controlling embryonic development in Drosophila. Among the important aspects of her work, which was done with Eric Wieschaus, was the discovery of the segment control genes and the use of saturation mutagenesis to identify all genes controlling early development.
Nüsslein-Volhard has applied the same techniques to zebrafish, Brachydanio rerio, in order to uncover the genes specific to the early embryonic development of vertebrates. A large-scale saturation screen was performed using ENU (N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea) to induce random point mutations in order to identify all of the genes controlling early development. Nearly 1200 specific phenotypes were found, which can be assigned to 372 genes. Presently, these genes are being mapped at the Max Planck Institute using simple sequence repeats.