The zebrafish is omnivorous, and it primarily eats zooplankton, insects, and phytoplankton. It can eat a variety of foods if its main sources are not readily available.
D. rerio are a common and useful model organism for studies of vertebrate development and gene function. They may supplement higher vertebrate models, such as rats and mice. Pioneering work of George Streisinger at the University of Oregon established the zebrafish as a model organism; its importance was consolidated by large scale forward genetic screens (commonly referred to as the Tübingen/Boston screens). The scholarly journal Development devoted an issue to research using the fish in celebration of this landmark. .
Research with D. rerio has allowed advances in the fields of developmental biology, oncology, toxicology, reproductive studies, teratology, genetics, neurobiology, environmental sciences, stem cell and regenerative medicine, and evolutionary theory. Perhaps its greatest advantages for use in the laboratory as a model system come from its now sequenced genetic code, well understood, easily observable and testable developmental behaviors, and the availability of well-characterized mutants. Zebrafish embryonic development provides advantages over other vertebrate model organisms as well. Although the overall generation time of zebrafish is comparable to that of mice, zebrafish embryos develop rapidly, progressing from eggs to larvae in under three days. The embryos are large, robust, and transparent and develop externally to the mother, characteristics which all facilitate experimental manipulation and observation. Their nearly constant size during early development facilitates simple staining techniques, and drugs may be administered by adding directly to the tank. Unfertilized eggs can be made to divide, and the two-celled embryo fused into a single cell, creating a fully homozygous embryo.
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3. a b USGS NAS - Nonindigenous Aquatic Species
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