Our laboratory screens for visual mutants by examining larval eye movements in response to rotating illuminated stripes. This behavior, which is termed an optokinetic response (OKR), is a reflex that appears in zebrafish at the same time as the development of the visual system. The OKR can be accurately measured by 4 d post-fertilization, which is the age when larvae begin foraging for food. The OKR requires ∼1 min per larva analyzed. After identifying fish with defective eye movements, we conduct secondary screens (such as histological analysis and electroretinography) to identify the subset of fish with disruptions in the function of the outer retina. This paper describes our protocol for the OKR. Our setup is simple to construct and the materials needed are inexpensive. This makes our system especially useful for new undergraduate and graduate students, as well as introductory science lecturers.
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S.E.B. is supported by National Institutes of Health grant number EY015165.
Eye movements of two larvae. The OKR can be seen in the left hand larvae only. (MOV 1536 kb)
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