Using zebrafish to learn statistical analysis and mendelian genetics

Samantha Lindemann, Jon Senkler, Elizabeth Auchter, Jennifer O Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This project was developed to promote understanding of how mathematics and statistical analysis are used as tools in genetic research. It gives students the opportunity to carry out hypothesis-driven experiments in the classroom: students generate hypotheses about Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance patterns, gather raw data, and test their hypotheses using chi-square statistical analysis. In the first protocol, students are challenged to analyze inheritance patterns using GloFish, brightly colored, commercially available, transgenic zebrafish that express Green, Yellow, or Red Fluorescent Protein throughout their muscles. In the second protocol, students learn about genetic screens, microscopy, and developmental biology by analyzing the inheritance patterns of mutations that cause developmental defects. The difficulty of the experiments can be adapted for middle school to upper level undergraduate students. Since the GloFish experiments use only fish and materials that can be purchased from pet stores, they should be accessible to many schools. For each protocol, we provide detailed instructions, ideas for how the experiments fit into an undergraduate curriculum, raw data, and example analyses. Our plan is to have these protocols form the basis of a growing and adaptable educational tool available on the Zebrafish in the Classroom Web site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011


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