CR-Zebrafish Image from NIH Lab
Research Models
Dan Castranova

Art of the Science: Zebrafish

What scientists are gleaning by elucidating the lymphatic system of a baby zebrafish.

Charles River Aquatic Research Specialist Dan Castranova has made a career of showing how art can inform science. Using high-tech tools, he has created multiple images of zebrafish as an insourced contractor for Brant Weinstein’s laboratory at the US National Institutes of Health, one of the leading research groups studying vascular development in the zebrafish. This latest image (show above), part of our Eureka’s “Art of the Science” series, was created during a project to study the intracranial lymphatic development of zebrafish. 

Eureka: What are we looking at in this image?

DC: We are looking at the dorsal view of a 5-week-old double transgenic zebrafish with lymphatic vessels, bones and scales labeled by two different fluorescent proteins (Tg(mrc1a:egfp)y251,

Tg(Ola.Sp7:mCherry-Eco.NfsB)pd46 ). The same fish is displayed three times with the lymphatic vessels, bones and scales displayed in different colors.

Eureka: How was the image generated?

DC: The image was acquired using a Nikon Ti2 inverted microscope with Yokogawa CSU-W1 spinning disk confocal, Hamamatsu Orca Flash 4 v3 camera, 4X objective. The spinning disk confocal takes optical sections and the objective moves up and down to create a volume. Four separate volumes were acquired to cover the entire fish, then they were stitched together and flattened to create the image of the fish.

Eureka What are researchers learning from these images?

DC: This image was acquired during our project to first describe and characterize intracranial lymphatic development in zebrafish. Our recent publication shows that zebrafish have a similar intracranial lymphatic network to mammals. The advantage to using zebrafish to study these vessels is that they are easier to image than in mice. Interesting discoveries involving neurodegenerative disorders, and treatments for brain cancer have been made related to these vessels in mammals so we are excited for future discoveries that can be made using the zebrafish.

Eureka: Can you tell us something cool about your lab?

DC: The Weinstein Laboratory first described the lymphatic system in zebrafish in 2006, first described fluorescent granular perithelial cells in zebrafish, an interesting cell population that resides in the outer layers of the brain, and now was the first to characterize intracranial lymphatics in zebrafish.


To learn more about Dan’s work, check out these earlier Eureka stories here and here.

This story is part of our Art of the Science series, where we showcase the amazing  scientific art (images, movies and cartoons) created by Charles River scientists and outside scientists, in their lab. Do you have a good idea for Art of the Science? Contact [email protected].