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FEATURE ARTICLE

The Zebrafish Exposed

"See-through" mutants may hold the key to unraveling the mysteries of embryonic development

Ralf Dahm

Figure 4. Genetic alterations...Click to Enlarge Image

Although aquarium enthusiasts have long known the zebrafish from its ubiquity in pet stores, this small tropical fish entered the scientific limelight only in the past decade. Yet in that short period, more than 4,000 scientists have come to focus their attention on the biology of Danio rerio. Because their transparent embryos develop within see-through eggs outside the mother’s body, zebrafish permit scientists to follow the formation of tissues and organs in microscopic detail as the organism grows. Thus this small Indian fish may be the key to understanding how vertebrates, including human beings, develop.


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