Wow, it’s been a little while since I last blogged. I’ve been busy trying to stain the eyes of my zebra fish, but still with little luck. My goal is to dye the retinas and their resulting optic nerves and neural pathways of developing zebrafish. After staining the retinas and optic nerve, I was going to keep a group under constant intense lighting conditions, another group under a regular 12 hour dark and 12 hour light cycle, while raising yet another group in complete darkness for 6 days after fertilization. I would then test their visual processing skills by rotating a stimulus around their tank and seeing whether or not members of each group followed the stimulus. However, I haven’t been able to do even one run through as I can’t get my fish to live long enough or stain them early enough.
I’ve been using self made micro spotters to inject dye into the retinas of these developing fish, but there are a lot of problems that I’m still running into. One of the largest is that I can’t seem to get the retinas stained until the fish are at least 2 or 3 days old (post fertilization). By this time a lot of early development in the retina as well as neural construction of pathways to the optic tectum and lateral geniculate (some of the primary visual sensory areas of the fish brain) have already occurred. To make matters worse, the fish often times don’t survive past four or five days after staining. This might be due to poor maintenance (whoops), but they should survive if I simply feed them and change their water every other day. I really think that I might be poking through the retina and damaging other tissues when I stain with my micro spotters. I know there are many fancy pants scientists reading this right now who could do the experiment in their sleep, but I guess I’m still just figuring out what doing science is really all about (which is why I love this class).