Rights: The University of Waikato Published 27 November 2007 Download

Blood, nerves, eyes – Auckland University's Dr Love explains why it all depends on what you're looking for.


Stratford High School I’m fascinated that you use fish as a model for all vertebrates, when we’re all used to the mouse being the model organism. Because it’s a mammal, it would be closer maybe embryologically to humans. How similar are those early stages of fish development to human embryo development?

Dr Love Auckland University I think certainly with using zebrafish, there are a lot of similarities in your organogenesis programme. If I wish to look at blood cell development, then the zebrafish is entirely applicable. If I wanted to look at central nervous system development, there will be differences and I might not have complete buy-in in using the zebrafish as a decent model. If I want to look at the retina, it could be okay. If I want to look at the heart, then there could be problems.

So it depends what tissue you are looking at, what disease you wish to model. For some diseases, the earlier events are best analysed in a zebrafish compared to the mouse because it’s ex-utero development. That is, the eggs develop outside the body of the female. You can image these with simple light microscopy, and you can look at transcripts and proteins and anything you care to look at.