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A giant among minnows: Giant danio can keep growing

Two fish that share much in common genetically appear to have markedly different abilities to grow, a finding that could provide a new way to research such disparate areas as muscle wasting disease and fish farming, a new study shows.

The study in the November issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, finds that the giant danio, unlike its cousin the zebrafish, appears to have the ability to recruit new muscle throughout its life. Humans have the same ability before birth, but mostly lose it after birth.

Because the zebrafish and giant danio are closely related, and the zebrafish’s genome has already been mapped, scientists hope they can more easily identify the genetic keys to the difference in growth potential between them. According to co-author Peggy R. Biga, “I don’t think there will be a major genomic difference between them. I believe it will be easy to define the difference.?

The study “Zebrafish and giant danio as models for muscle growth: Determinate versus indeterminate growth as determined by morphometric analysis,?was carried out by Biga and Frederick W. Goetz, both of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Great Lakes Wisconsin Aquatic Technology and Environmental Research (WATER) Institute, Milwaukee. The American Physiological Society published the study.

Zebrafish versus Giant Danio

Zebrafish and giant danios, members of the minnow family, are easy to raise and are popular inhabitants of home aquariums. They are native to the warm waters around India and some other areas of southern Asia. Although both are small, the danio is a giant among minnows, growing to a maximum of six inches. The zebrafish, in contrast, grows to about two inches.

The zebrafish has been a staple of genetic research because it is easy to raise and maintain. But the fish is too tiny for physiological research. So the researchers were interested in finding a
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Source:American Physiological Society


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