image of a zebrafish

Danio rerio (Zebrafish)

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Scientific Name: Danio rerio

Organism Facts:

  • Small, tropical freshwater fish that are popular in aquariums.
  • Embryos are clear and develop externally from the mother, making it a useful vertebrate model organism to study human embryo development.
  • Given similarities to humans at the DNA level, zebrafish are also used to study human diseases such as skin cancer, obesity, and blood diseases.
  • Serves as a model for regenerative medicine because of its ability to regenerate fin tissue.

Which UI Department of Biology researchers study this organism:

Diane Slusarski

Alan Kay

Why UI Department of Biology researchers use this organism:

  • Study how cells communicate with one another to form networks that are critical in developmental processes such as body plan formation and organ formation.
  • Zebrafish are also used as a model for Bardet-Biedl syndrome, a human disease characterized by early onset obesity, polydactyly, kidney malformations, hypogenitalism, learning disabilities and retinal degeneration as well as an increased susceptibility of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and congenital heart disease.