With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group member Associate Professor Bruce Draper, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, is studying zebrafish (Danio rerio) to learn about the genetics of sexual reproduction in vertebrates. Draper’s research, published in PLOS Genetics with postdoc and Dena Leerberg, ’17 Ph.D., may advance discoveries into the origins of ovarian cancer.
Humans share some 70 percent of DNA with the fish, and 84 percent of the genes associated with human disease have counterparts in zebrafish. These genetic relationships make zebrafish a valuable tool for researchers.
But what makes the zebrafish species a truly powerful model organism is its transparency. Zebrafish embryos are clear, providing scientists a window into the biological machinery behind the fish’s formation.