Watching the zebrafish heart beat in 3D

Development and optimisation of synchronised 3D in-vivo imaging of the embryonic and juvenile zebrafish heart

Jonathan Taylor (lead researcher)

Glasgow, University of

Start date: 13 July 2015 (Duration 3 years)

As well as its early heart development being similar to mammals, the zebrafish embryo is transparent, which makes it ideal to study how the heart first starts to grow and beat. But the tiny zebrafish heart beats 150 times per minute, which means it is very difficult to image throughout its full cycle of contraction and relaxation.

Dr Jonathan Taylor and colleagues at the University of Glasgow have been awarded a grant to develop and refine a bespoke microscope so they can study this process in minute detail. Using a specialised video camera attached to a microscope, they will collect and analyse images at different points in the heart cycle and use them to create a 3D high definition movie image of this tiny heart at different stages as the zebrafish embryo and juvenile zebrafish develops. This will allow them to study heart structure and function during early development, and to assess the effects of genetic and drug interventions on heart development and growth in detail.

The Glasgow team also plan to use the microscope to find out how the zebrafish embryo heart responds to injury, since the system will also allow them to trigger injury to specific structures in the heart and monitor the response.

Their findings will give new insights into how the heart develops and grows in the zebrafish. The technological advances they will make in this project will reveal new methods for other researchers to use who study zebrafish or other animal models.

Project details

Grant amount £162,279
Grant type New Horizons Grant
Start Date 13 July 2015
Duration 3 years
Reference NH/14/2/31074
Status In progress

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