Zebrafish, a small diurnal teleost fish extensively used in developmental biology, is receiving increasing interest as an inexpensive, fast-reproducing animal model for the study of neurological disorders. Paired adults typically produce clutches of 50 to 200 eggs overnight. Young fish exhibit a spectrum of behavior wide enough to be used for behavior-based genetic or pharmacological screens of the type needed by high throughput tools for brain and behavior research. To date, the pace of progress has been hindered the fact that young fish are very small (approximately 7mm in length) and transparent;currently available monitoring tools are expensive, have limited precision, and require isolating individual fish in separate cells. Based on an original approach to capturing images using consumer grade video cameras, we have designed a concept (nicknamed "Zebratrack") and implemented an 8-tank prototype (tanks are Petri dish - shaped 30mL containers) of a video-recording station to monitor, screen and analyze clutches of zebrafish in group without requiring the isolation of individual fish. Zebratrack is capable of continuously recording multiple video streams in parallel over extended periods of time (several days) with sufficient resolution to track and analyze individual fish, so that behavioral trends as well as rare transient behaviors can be detected and analyzed. The system is extremely easy to use;in its current version, setting up a screen of eight 60-fish tanks takes just under 10 minutes. A real time mode enables live monitoring of the fish activity, and an analysis module generates data in a relational database;this data can be accessed using standard web technologies to retrieve data, run statistics, and replay image sequences. The proposed effort aims at expanding the initial capabilities of Zebratrack, at offering enhanced data analysis support, and at delivering an 80-tank system capable of screening in the order of 2400 fish in parallel. Based on the concepts proven with the prototype, we intend to build a high-bandwidth, powerful, robust, easy-to- use, open, scalable, highly-parallel screening station to support high throughput behavior screening and monitoring of zebrafish. We believe the resulting system will be an outstanding high throughput tool for brain and behavior research, as well as an invaluable screening platform for the neuroscience and behavioral science communities at large.

Public Health Relevance

We have designed a prototype of a video-recording station to monitor, screen and analyze clutches of young zebrafish in group without requiring the isolation of individual fish. Based on the concepts proven with the prototype, we propose to build a high- bandwidth, powerful, robust, easy-to-use, open, scalable, highly-parallel screening station to support high throughput behavior screening and monitoring of zebrafish. We believe the resulting system will be an outstanding high throughput tool for brain and behavior research, as well as an invaluable genetic and pharmacological screening platform for the neuroscience and behavioral science communities at large.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
Project #
5R43MH088176-02
Application #
8206696
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-ETTN-H (13))
Program Officer
Grabb, Margaret C
Project Start
2010-12-16
Project End
2013-11-30
Budget Start
2011-12-01
Budget End
2013-11-30
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$296,917
Indirect Cost
Name
Martineau & Associates
Department
Type
DUNS #
867530206
City
Menlo Park
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
94025