A team of scientists at the Michigan State University has found a new, more efficient method for cloning zebra fish.

After the mouse, it is the most commonly used vertebrate in genetic studies,” said Jose Cibelli, an MSU professor of animal science and one of the paper’s co-authors. “It is used in cancer research and cardiovascular research because they have many of the same genes we have.”

Zebra fish is also used by scientists researching normal development and birth defects, as well as various human diseases and the functions of cell populations within organs.

Up until now, zebra fish cloning has had a low success rate, but the new Michigan method has changed this. The new method uses ovarian fluid from a Chinook salmon to keep the unfertilized egg alive.

This worked well, because it kept the egg inactive for some time”, Cibelli explained. It gave us two or three hours to work with.

During the next step of the process, the Michigan researchers used a laser to remove DNA from the egg; a method borrowed from human in vitro fertilization. Next, the team devised a new, more efficient way of inserting the donor cells into the egg.

The tricky part was finding a way to get into the egg,” Cibelli said. “We used the same entrance that sperm uses. There was only one spot on the egg, and we had to find it.”

You can find more information in the most recent issue of the journal Nature Methods.

The main author of the article “Novel Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer Method in Zebra Fish,” is Kannika Siripattarapravat, a doctoral student in Cibelli’s Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory. Other authors include Patrick Venta, an associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and C.C. Chang, a professor of pediatrics and human development.