Gamete Collection and In Vitro Fertilization of Astyanax mexicanus.


Stowers Institute for Medical Research; Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, KU Medical Center; [Email]


Astyanax mexicanus is emerging as a model organism for a variety of research fields in biological science. Part of the recent success of this teleost fish species is that it possesses interfertile cave and river-dwelling populations. This enables the genetic mapping of heritable traits that were fixed during adaptation to the different environments of these populations. While this species can be maintained and bred in the lab, it is challenging to both obtain embryos during the daytime and create hybrid embryos between strains. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been used with a variety of different model organisms to successfully and repeatedly breed animals in the lab. In this protocol, we show how, by acclimatizing A. mexicanus to different light cycles coupled with changes in water temperature, we can shift breeding cycles to a chosen time of the day. Subsequently, we show how to identify suitable parental fish, collect healthy gametes from males and females, and produce viable offspring using IVF. This enables related procedures such as the injection of genetic constructs or developmental analysis to occur during normal working hours. Furthermore, this technique can be used to create hybrids between the cave and surface-dwelling populations, and thereby enable the study of the genetic basis of phenotypic adaptations to different environments.

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