The zebrafish, Danio rerio, is a relatively simple vertebrate whose potential as a model system for developmental studies is only recently being realized. Embryos are easy to obtain in large numbers, develop external to the mother in fresh water and are optically transparent throughout the early stages of development. These features make the zebrafish embryo easily accessible to experimental manipulations such as the microinjection of lineage tracer molecules, cell ablations and cell transplantation. In addition to being an excellent embryological preparation, the zebrafish has an extensive history of genetic analyses and many interesting mutations have already been isolated.
The ability to combine a workable genetics with an accessible embryology is perhaps the most advantageous feature of working with the zebrafish and has provided us with many novel insights into vertebrate development.
The theme of the work being performed in the laboratory is to address classical problems of vertebrate embryogenesis using modern techniques in the zebrafish embryo. The general goal is to gain insights into the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms leading to the assignment of cell fate and, ultimately, to the formation of a complex vertebrate body plan. We are especially interested in the processes leading to the specification of the embryonic body axes and how the movements of individual cells within the embryo influence/correlate with cell fate decisions.