For your eyes only: Pesticide effects on zebrafish retina
Dr. Gabi Rennebeck is a developmental biologist with experience in three model systems: mice, zebrafish, and flies. She...
The natural world is overflowing with information. Animal species have developed different sensory processes to filter the enormous amount of information in a way that does not compromise the survival of the organism, as neuronal computation can be a metabolically challenging process. The visual system of the zebrafish larva is a clear example of these ingenious adaptations that evolved to survive in a specific environment. The structure of the zebrafish larva retina is fine-tuned to save on the amount of information required to hunt for food and to avoid predation. The larval retinas are tetrachromatic, and there is an anisotropic distribution of the photoreceptors.This unique distribution assists the larva in filtering the information and provide the organism’s brain with a simplified version that is relevant for survival and, therefore, reproduction. As the fish ages, the photoreceptors become evenly distributed in the retina. In addition to the potential concern for human health, pesticides pose a significant risk to aquatic life, as they threaten the delicate balance of ecological systems. Pesticide concentrations that exceed a guideline can be avoided; however, not exceeding a critical value does not ensure that there is no problem. The goal of this collection is to investigate the effects of pesticides found in our watersheds on the development of the zebrafish retina using techniques such as proteomics, in situ hybridization, and eye fluorescent transgenic lines. This study could be broadened to different fish species, as some of them may be more susceptible and therefore may suffer annihilation from their aquatic environment.