Classical and molecular cytogenetics of the zebrafish, Danio rerio (Cyprinidae, Cypriniformes): an overview

Genetica. 2001;111(1-3):397-412. doi: 10.1023/a:1013776323077.


The zebrafish, Danio rerio, has recently become the model system for the genetic analysis of vertebrate development. This paper reviews the advances in zebrafish cytogenetics, obtained through classical and molecular techniques, which will lead to the assignment of specific linkage groups to specific chromosome pairs in the zebrafish genome project. Several chromosome pairs of the 50-chromosome karyotype of D. rerio were differentially stained by classical staining techniques and additional information has been obtained by molecular cytogenetics. Indeed, the analysis of constitutive heterochromatin by C-banding and base-specific fluorochrome staining had suggested a differential composition of peri- and paracentromeric constitutive heterochromatin. The chromosome mapping of distinct AT- and GC-rich zebrafish satellite DNAs by means of PRINS (Primed in situ) and multicolor FISH (Fluorescence in situ Hybridization) has confirmed this hypothesis, which therefore provided the chromosome localization of 10% of the zebrafish genome. The analysis of nucleolus organizer regions (NORs) by silver staining and by FISH with 18S rDNA has also revealed the existence of variable and inactive NORs, in addition to those on the terminal regions of the long arms of the three NOR-bearing chromosome pairs. Other multicopy genes, such as minor ribosomal genes, or multicopy repeats, such as telomere specific sequences, have now been mapped on zebrafish chromosomes. The latest advancement in zebrafish molecular cytogenetics is the chromosome mapping of single locus genes. Single-copy genes from each of the 25 genetic linkage groups are now being mapped on zebrafish chromosomes by using PAC clones.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Banding
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA, Satellite / genetics
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Karyotyping
  • Nucleolus Organizer Region
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Telomere
  • Zebrafish / classification
  • Zebrafish / genetics*


  • DNA, Satellite
  • Fluorescent Dyes