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This fish species has become a powerful model organism for the study of vertebrate biology, developmental and genetic research, and more recently infectious disease studies.
Zebrafish are a small (3 to 4 cm), tropical, freshwater, cyprinids that are very popular ornamental/aquaria fish species. Wild type strains have five horizontal, uniformly pigmented stripes on the side of the body that extend to the end of the caudal fin ray. A visible lateral line is absent and the anal fin is also striped. Both maxillary and rostral barbels are present. Zebrafish are native to Asia, particularly India, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bangladesh and are found to survive in diverse environmental conditions. This fish species has become a powerful model organism for the study of vertebrate biology, developmental and genetic research, and more recently infectious disease studies. Zebrafish grow optimally between 25 and 31 º C, have a short generation time to adulthood ( 3 – 4 months), breed year round, males and females exhibit exceptional fecundity, and resulting transparent embryos develop ex utero. The full genome sequence is complete for this species, several research tools have been developed, and there are a large number of characterized strains, some of which have pathologic conditions similar to human diseases, that are maintained in various research facilities and stock centers. Researchers at the WFRC have utilized zebrafish as a model for fish diseases, immunology investigational studies, and to evaluate the affects of anthropogenic environmental contaminants.