The zebrafish litany has entered the popular press

Deja vu…years ago, we I was a wee young grad student and the only labs doing work on zebrafish were at the University of Oregon, we used to have to do this annoying thing everyone called the “zebrafish litany” at our talks. Because they were relatively unknown, we had this short explanation for why we were working on zebrafish: rapidlydevelopingtransparentvertebrateembryos. And later we added “genetics” and “transgenics” and “medicalapplications” to the boilerplate. As the mob of zebrafish acolytes grew, I swear you could hear the squishy sounds of eyeballs rolling every time we started our introductions.

Well, the laugh is on them. Now everybody gets to read the zebrafish litany, and we’re taking over the known universe.

(The article might have missed some older references in the scientific literature, though: there was a taxonomic revision in 1993, changing the scientific name from Brachydanio rerio to just plain Danio rerio. Also, there were a significant number of papers prior to its use as a developmental model — it was used a fair bit in environmental toxicity studies.)


  1. says

    I thought the zebrafish litany went like this:

    This is my zebrafish. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me my zebrafish is useless. Without my zebrafish, I am useless.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Speaking of zebrafish, how is the fish breeding program going?

  3. azhael says

    Yeah, i was having nerdy fun until i read ” One of the more fun things to come out of zebrafish research are fluorescent varieties that can be bought in pet stores.”
    It’s not fun….it feeds into the terrible craze of modifying living organisms to fit our absurd whims that is destroying entire gene-pools and causing suffering to animals. Also, in other species that have become commercially available like GFP axolotls, it means that now we get to subject these animals to a new kind of torture….exposing them to UV light so that they can glow from within….exactly what a species from murky waters in a deep lake loves…It’s even more fun when they are also leucistic, because you see not having protective pigments means UV absortion is higher and they glow more, isn’t that nice?

    These animals should have never entered the pet market. They are research animals and they serve a very valuable purpose. Being played with like novelty toys is not it….

  4. Holms says

    But but Matt Cavanaugh’s entirely level-headed* tirade against you said that zebra fish research had ‘left you behind’, yet here you are, trying to identify as a mamber of that group. Are you seriously suggesting that said tirade might not be factually correct?????!!2

  5. kalkin says

    Weird coincidence. Just got finished with an IACUC inspection that included a zebrafish facility. VERY fancy!

  6. gillt says


    it [is] used a fair bit in environmental toxicity studies.

    Northwest Fisheries Science Center, EcoTox.