Transparent GM fish used to study fish disease

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Genetically modified transparent Zebra danios have been infected with glow in the dark bacteria so that the effects of a fish disease can be monitored.

Scientists from the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Umea in Sweden immersed transparent GM danios in water containing a pathogenic bacteria that had been modified to glow in the dark. Their findings were announced in the journal Microbial Pathology today.

The pathogen, called Vibrio anguillarium which causes the fish disease vibriosis, was modified to include the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) gene that has been used to make transgenic fish glow under blacklight. By infecting the see-through fish with glowing bacteria they hoped to be able to see where the bacteria went following an infection.

Studying the infected fish with a microscope showed that Vibrio first attacks the gastrointestinal tract. The scientists believe that this first point of infection occurs irrespective of the motility of the bacterium:

"The zebrafish infection model provides evidence that the intestine and skin represent sites of infection by V. anguillarum and suggests a host site where chemotaxis may function in virulence."

For more details see: O'Toole R, Von Hofsten J, Rosqvist R, Olsson PE, Wolf-Watz H. (2004) - Visualisation of Zebrafish infection by GFP-labelled Vibrio anguillarum. Microb Pathog. 2004 Jul;37(1):41-6.