Methods Collections

Current methods in Astyanax mexicanus research

Collection Overview

The Mexican Tetra, Astyanax mexicanus is an excellent model organism to study the developmental and genetic basis of evolution. This species of fish consists of a river-dwelling (surface) population and a number of cave-dwelling populations that evolved from surface fish trapped in caves.  Cavefish have distinct morphology and physiology including: absence of eyes, reduced pigment, increased sensory structures, sensitive smell, reduced circadian rhythm, altered blood Show More



Gamete collection and in-vitro fertilization of Astyanax mexicanus 

Robert Peuß*1, Jaya Krishnan1, Zachary Zakibe1, Nicholas Rohner1
1Stowers Institute for Medical Research

Astyanax mexicanus is an uprising model organism in a variety of research fields in biological science. Part of the recent success of this teleost fish species is that it possesses a cave- and river dwelling population, which are interfertile. This enables genetic mapping of heritable traits that were fixated during adaptation to different environments of these populations. The transition of an emerging model organism from the wild to the lab, however, depends on the ability to establis Show More

Neuromast imaging and free software-based tracking of a mechanosensory behavior in the Mexican cavefish

Masato Yoshizawa*1, Mclean Worsham1, Alexander Settle1, Vania Filipa Lima Fernandes1, Chantell Balaan1, Lillian Tuttle1, Motoko Iwashita1
1University of Hawai'i at Manoa

In perpetual darkness, cave-dwelling populations of Astyanax mexicanus have evolved a series of adaptive morphological and behavioral phenotypes. Vibration attraction behavior is a well-characterized adaptive behavior for foraging in darkness and is associated with increased number of sensory structures (neuromasts) in cavefish.  In this article we describe a method for measuring and analyzing vibration attraction behavior and imaging neuromasts. In addition, we present methods for Show More

Raising Astyanax mexicanus for analysis of post-larval phenotypes and whole mount immunohistochemistry

Clifford Tabin*1, Misty Riddle1, Brian Martineau1, Megan Peavey*1
1Harvard Medical School

River and cave-adapted populations of A. mexicanus have differences in morphology, physiology, and behavior. Research focused on comparing adult forms has revealed the genetic basis of some of these differences. Less is known about how the populations differ at post-larval stages although it could provide insight into how cavefish survive to adulthood in their natural environment. Methods for comparing post-larval development in the laboratory require standardized aquaculture and feedin Show More

A simple and flexible protocol for whole-mount in situ hybridization for Astyanax embryos

Joshua Gross*1
1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati

In recent years, a draft genome for the blind Mexican cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) has been released, revealing the sequence identities for thousands of coding genes. Prior research into this emerging model system capitalized on comprehensive genome-wide investigations that have identified numerous quantitative trait loci association various cave-associated phenotypes. However, the ability to connect genes of interest to the heritable basis for phenotypic change remains a significant c Show More

Automated measurements of sleep and locomotor activity in Mexican cavefish

Alex Keene*1
1Florida Atlantic University

Sleep is fundamental to animal life, yet little is known about how sleep has evolved throughout the animal kingdom. Genetic and comparative approaches to studying sleep in fish models have provided fundamental insight into the molecular and evolutionary basis of sleep regulation. Across phyla, sleep can be characterized by highly conserved behavioral characteristics including elevated arousal threshold, rebound following deprivation, and consolidated periods of immobility. The Mexican cavefish, Show More

Implementation of Tol2-mediated transgenesis in the Mexican cavefish

Erik Duboue*1, Alex Keene*1, Jacqueline Chin1, James Jaggard*1, Bethany Stahl*1
1Florida Atlantic University

Cave animals provide a compelling system for investigating the evolutionary mechanisms and genetic bases underlying changes in numerous complex traits including eye degeneration, depigmentation, sleep loss, hyperphagia, and sensory processing. While diverse cave species have been studied in the laboratory setting, the Mexican cavefish, Astyanax mexicanus, has provided unique insights into biological and molecular processes underlying complex traits, and is well poised as an emerging mod Show More

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