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Fish is fish: the use of experimental model species to reveal causes of skeletal diversity in evolution and disease
Harris, P; Henke, K; Hawkins, B; Witten, P.E. (2014). Fish is fish: the use of experimental model species to reveal causes of skeletal diversity in evolution and disease. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 30(4): 616-629. dx.doi.org/10.1111/jai.12533
In: Journal of Applied Ichthyology = Zeitschrift für angewandte Ichthyologie. Blackwell: Berlin. ISSN 0175-8659; e-ISSN 1439-0426, meer
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  • Harris, P
  • Henke, K
  • Hawkins, B
  • Witten, P.E.

Abstract
    Fishes are wonderfully diverse. This variety is a result of the ability of ray-finned fishes to adapt to a wide range of environments, and has made them more specious than the rest of vertebrates combined. With such diversity it is easy to dismiss comparisons between distantly related fishes in efforts to understand the biology of a particular fish species. However, shared ancestry and the conservation of developmental mechanisms, morphological features and physiology provide the ability to use comparative analyses between different organisms to understand mechanisms of development and physiology. The use of species that are amenable to experimental investigation provides tools to approach questions that would not be feasible in other 'non-model' organisms. For example, the use of small teleost fishes such as zebrafish and medaka has been powerful for analysis of gene function and mechanisms of disease in humans, including skeletal diseases. However, use of these fish to aid in understanding variation and disease in other fishes has been largely unexplored. This is especially evident in aquaculture research. Here we highlight the utility of these small laboratory fishes to study genetic and developmental factors that underlie skeletal malformations that occur under farming conditions. We highlight several areas in which model species can serve as a resource for identifying the causes of variation in economically important fish species as well as to assess strategies to alleviate the expression of the variant phenotypes in farmed fish. We focus on genetic causes of skeletal deformities in the zebrafish and medaka that closely resemble phenotypes observed both in farmed as well as natural populations of fishes.

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