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How the zebrafish gets its stripes
Date:8/28/2014

This news release is available in German.

The zebrafish, a small fresh water fish, owes its name to a striking pattern of blue stripes alternating with golden stripes. Three major pigment cell types, black cells, reflective silvery cells, and yellow cells emerge during growth in the skin of the tiny juvenile fish and arrange as a multilayered mosaic to compose the characteristic colour pattern.

While it was known that all three cell types have to interact to form proper stripes, the embryonic origin of the pigment cells that develop the stripes of the adult fish has remained a mystery up to now. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tbingen have now discovered how these cells arise and behave to form the 'zebra' pattern. Their work may help to understand the development and evolution of the great diversity of striking patterns in the animal world.

Beauty in the living world amazes poets, philosophers and scientists alike. Nobel prize laureate Christiane Nsslein-Volhard, Director of the Department for Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, has long been fascinated by the biology behind the colour patterns displayed by animals. Her group uses zebrafish as a model organism to study the genetic basis of animal development.

New research by Nsslein-Volhard's laboratory published in Science shows that the yellow cells undergo dramatic changes in cell shape to tint the stripe pattern of zebrafish. "We were surprised to observe such cell behaviours, as these were totally unexpected from what we knew about colour pattern formation", says Prateek Mahalwar, first author of the study. The study builds on a previous work from the laboratory, which was published in June this year in Nature Cell Biology'/>"/>

Contact: Nadja Winter
presse-eb@tuebingen.mpg.de
49-707-160-1444
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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