The lateral line of zebrafish: a model system for the analysis of morphogenesis and neural development in vertebrates

Biol Cell. 2003 Dec;95(9):579-87. doi: 10.1016/j.biolcel.2003.10.005.


The lateral line of the zebrafish has many of the advantages that made the sensory organs of Drosophila a very productive model system: 1) it comprises a set of discrete sense organs (neuromasts) arranged in a defined, species-specific pattern, such that each organ can be individually recognized; 2) the neuromasts are superficial and easy to visualize, and the innervating neurons are easy to label; 3) the sensory projection is simple yet reproducibly organized. Here we describe some of the tools that can be used to investigate the development of this system, and we illustrate their usefulness with specific examples. We conclude that the lateral line is uniquely suited among vertebrate sensory systems for a molecular, cellular and genetic analysis of pattern formation and of neural development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Models, Animal
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Sense Organs / cytology
  • Sense Organs / embryology*
  • Sense Organs / physiology
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / physiology