by Hamza Anwer
Before I started working with the I-DEEL lab (first as an intern and now as a PhD student), I was in the dark regarding this little species of fish, Danio rerio aka the zebrafish. Indigenous to South Asia, they are broadly distributed across parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Pakistan.
The Garvan Institute of Medical Research is host to a quality Biological Testing Facility which houses zebrafish. Over the last several months, I have gained a newfound admiration and respect for just how fascinating these fish really are. Most commonly used in biomedical studies as a vertebrate model for studying genetics and development, they are also robust enough to answer various questions in evolutionary biology, particularly with respect to behaviour. They can learn complex tasks; remember; and display strong social cohesion.
We’ve been running various experiments regarding how they respond to various stimuli to better understand their seemingly complex cognitive processes. One such experiment involves learning how they respond to a novel environment while in an anxious state. Safe to say, my journey with zebrafish has only just started, and I’m excited at the prospect of seeing what else these amazing fish have to offer and learning more in the process.