Unfortunately, water pollution in China is a serious issue. Current water testing involves chemical testing, but it isn’t always sensitive enough to accurately determine the presence of all pollutants. That’s where the zebrafish comes in.
In a new water testing method, researchers put 20 healthy zebrafish embryos into a water sample, and then observe the embryos for several days. The health of the fish is an indicator of possible pollutants in the water. If even one embryo mutates or dies, it’s a sign that the water may not be safe for humans.
So, why zebrafish? Zebrafish are becoming increasingly popular as a model for testing new drugs, and they are an excellent model for determining water pollution because embryos are very sensitive to pollutants that aren’t picked up by traditional tests.
Pollutants with unknown side effects may be present in much of the water in China. But with the help of these little fish, researchers may be able to determine whether or not humans could be at risk. Over 90% of the zebrafish’s genetic code is identical to humans, so it makes sense that this testing would be particularly relevant. Read more about it here.