Zebrafish and Lamprey Facility

Marianne Bronner – Faculty Advisor

The Zebrafish/Lamprey Facility in the Beckman Institute aims to provide easy access to the Caltech community for research using zebrafish and frog embryos and adults.

Zebrafish has a number of unique characteristics that makes it a fantastic species for investigating vertebrate development and for modeling human disease. This species is highly transparent and thus allows us to image morphological changes that occur during development often in real time. Thus, using various fluorescent proteins, we can label individual cells, organs and even organelles. Adult fish are small in size and breed readily. Eggs are externally fertilized and can be manipulated from the moment of fertilization. Embryo development is relatively fast and embryos can be genetically manipulated: various mutants can be generated to analyze gene function. Furthermore, genetic screens can be conducted to discover novel genes and also chemical screens can be conducted to determine effect of various drugs on development and organ formation.

Lamprey are jawless fish that occupy a key phylogenetic position at the base of the vertebrate tree. They have an unusual life cycle such that they breed once a year, during the summer months. We have established a facility for the purpose of reliability generating lamprey embryos for embryological and molecular studies during the time that they are fertile. Embryos are obtained by in vitro fertilization and can then be studied from the one cell stage through larval development. This represents one of the few places it is possible to obtain lamprey embryos in North America.

  • The facility has all the necessary equipment and technical expertise to create new lines and cross existing lines of transgenic zebrafish. We have 1000 fish tanks with a fully automated Aquaneering aquatic housing system. Microinjection equipment and several fluorescent and bright field dissecting microscopes are available for use, and we are in close proximity to the Beckman Institute Imaging Facility for confocal analysis.
  • We have available both wild type and albino Xenopus that can be used to generate fertilized eggs for embryological analysis as well as oocytes for biochemistry. Wild type Xenopus laevis adult frogs are housed in a newly built facility, immediately across from the Zebrafish Facility. The facility is equipped with a state-of-the-art Aquaneering aquatic housing system, fully automated, with multiple filtration systems to maintain water quality, as well as a remote monitoring system.
  • The facility is equipped with three large Aquaneering aquatic tanks for housing adult lamprey and maintaining them at different temperatures in order to stagger their maturation rates. Typically, embryos are available from June through the beginning of September.


Prof. Marianne Bronner

Faculty Advisor

  • 234 – Beckman Institute
  • Mail Code 139-74
  • (626) 395-3355
  • mbronner@caltech.edu