Behavioural phenotyping of casper mutant and 1-pheny-2-thiourea treated adult zebrafish

Zebrafish. 2013 Dec;10(4):466-71. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2013.0878. Epub 2013 Jul 20.


The ability to visualise neural circuits in zebrafish in vivo is one of the most useful aspects of this model organism in neuroscience. To maintain the transparency of embryos, however, drugs, such as 1-pheyl-2-thiourea (PTU) must be added, or researchers can use mutants that do not develop pigment (e.g., the casper). The behavioural characteristics of such strains, however, have not been documented. Here, we tested adult zebrafish from the casper line, as well as wild-type (Tübingen, TU) and wild-types treated as embryos with PTU on three commonly used behavioural endpoints in neuroscience: novel tank test (similar to open-field in rodents), conditioned place preference for nicotine, and social cohesion (using a new method of cluster analysis). We found no differences between the casper and the TU, but the adult TU treated with PTU as embryos showed a marked increase in anxiety during the novel tank test. These data suggest that where possible, labs interested in analysis of developmental processes involved in adult phenotypes should avoid the use of PTU in favour of transparent mutants, such as casper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / chemically induced
  • Anxiety / genetics
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein / genetics*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Nicotine
  • Phenylthiourea*
  • Zebrafish* / genetics


  • CASP8 and FADD-Like Apoptosis Regulating Protein
  • Phenylthiourea
  • Nicotine