Despite missing the characteristic stripes one would expect from a zebra – or a zebrafish – the fractals in this Picture of the Week show a zebrafish; or at least some cells in a zebrafish embryo, a few hours after fertilisation.
Zebrafish are not only popular aquarium fish, they are also an important and widely used model organism in scientific research. They are used to develop new drugs and to study the functions of genes. They are even one of the few types of fish that have ever made it into space.
As a model organism, the zebrafish possesses numerous advantages for researchers. The genome of the fish has been fully sequenced since 2013. Zebrafish also have well-understood, easily observable and testable developmental behaviours. This way the study of the tiny, unremarkable zebrafish has allowed progress in toxicology, genetics, neurobiology, environmental sciences, stem cell research, evolutionary theories and many more fields.
Credit: Jonas Hartmann & Elisa Gallo/EMBL
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