The natural world is an endless source of wonder, and nowhere more so than under the microscope; with the right imaging tools, even the most unexpected biological structures can reveal intricate works of art. These convoluted swirls represent the eye of a zebrafish larva under fluorescence microscopy, with cell nuclei highlighted in green and blood vessels in red. Zebrafish eyes are of huge interest to the field of stem cell research, because of one specific cell type found in the retina, the Müller glia. Normally these cells act to support nearby neurons, for example by regulating the chemistry of their environment, but their behaviour changes dramatically if the eye is injured: they divide and produce different cell types, regenerating the damaged tissues. Understanding this process could be an important step towards developing stem cell therapies for human vision, suggesting there’s more to the zebrafish than meets the eye.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat