Optogenetics and DanioVision

Zebrafish larvae are transparent, which offers many benefits for neuroscientific research. One is the ease of applying  optogenetic stimulation – there is no need for fiber optic implants. 

Optogenetics and zebrafish larvae

In the last decade, a method was invented to specifically activate or even inhibit small groups of neurons with light: optogenetics. Today, scientists can insert light-sensitive receptor proteins into neurons in vivo, making these neurons sensitive to activation by light of specific wavelengths. This allows scientists to control the activity of these neurons and study their downstream influence on a variety of biological processes, including behavior. For rodents this requires the implantation of optical fibers, but since zebrafish larvae are transparent, light simply needs to shine in the right direction. This way the role of specific neurons in behavior can be examined and great progress can be made in the deciphering of the brain’s wiring.  

DanioVision Optogenetics Add-on

There is an increase in the application of optogenetics in the field of zebrafish neurobiology, which motivated us to develop a specific add-on for DanioVision. Now researchers can easily functionally test the role of certain neurons in zebrafish larvae. The Optogenetics Add-on for DanioVision is an optogenetic LED light source (based on Prizmatix Modular LED system) that can easily be installed in your existing or new DanioVision Observation Chamber.

Several wavelengths

The standard DanioVision Observation Chamber can include an Optogenetics Add-on with two different wavelength (colors) LEDs. These can be used separately and simultaneously. Optionally, a custom Observation Chamber can include up to three LED colors. 

Programming and control

DanioVision is powered by EthoVision XT video tracking software that allows for the control and programming of hardware. This means that you can set user-defined time conditions for the optogenetic stimulation. In comparison to manual control, this offers  far better temporal precision and  adds efficiency to longitudinal studies. 

Research examples

Optogenetics is used to monitor specific neuronal activity as well as directly manipulate neurons. Two of the most used effectors to stimulate or inhibit neurons are channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) and halorhodopsin (NpHR). 

For example, NpHR has successfully been used to inhibit swimming behavior in zebrafish larvae (Arrenberg, et al., 2009). Other research showed that ChR2 activation induced backward swimming in a sparse transgene expression line (Zhu et al., 2009).