Zebrafish embryos are transparent, making them ideal for studying the formation of complicated cell tissue such as the eyes and the brain. Researchers are currently using a ‘spectrum of fates’ approach in order to learn more about the development of the retina – optical tissue which lines the inside of eyes and communicates with the brain. This technique uses specifically tuned fluorescent proteins to colour-code different cell types. The fluorescent proteins are injected into the yolk of an early-stage zebrafish embryo, where they will track the five major retinal cell types, causing them to fluoresce in a specific colour. Taking images of the retina during its development (pictured) allows the structural formation to be studied in real time – cells can be followed from birth, and around any paths they take before settling into place. Studies like this will improve our understanding of how biological structures initiate and grow.
Written by Helen Thomas
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