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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Boldness in Zebrafish Larvae-Development and Differences between a Domesticated Lab Strain and Offspring of Wild-Caught Fish

Axling, Johanna; Jakobsson, Hampus; Frymus, Natalia; Thornqvist, Per-Ove; Petersson, Erik; Winberg, Svante


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are becoming one of the most important model organisms in behavioural neuroscience. It has been shown repeatedly that different zebrafish strains show large behavioural differences. These divergent behavioural profiles may have a genetic basis, but environmental factors and previous experience are also known to greatly affect the behavioural phenotype of zebrafish. It could be expected that behavioural differences at the larval stage should be less affected by environmental factors and experience. In the present study, we screened larvae of zebrafish of the AB strain and offspring of wild-caught zebrafish for boldness, using an open field test. In order to follow the behavioural development, we studied larvae at the age of 5-, 7-, 12- and 30-days post fertilization (dpf). Behaviour, as well as behavioural development, clearly differed between the larvae of the different strains. Wild larvae showed larger total distance moved than AB larvae, both at light and dark conditions. These differences were already present at 12 dpf but became more pronounced with age. Wild larvae had a greater variance compared to AB larvae for most of the variables. We have previously shown that bold and shy adult zebrafish differ in the brain expression of dopamine and opioid receptors. The results of the current study show that wild larvae display significantly higher brain expression of drd2b than AB larvae at 30 dpf, a difference that could be related to differences in activity. We did not detect any differences in the expression of opioid receptors.


behaviour; boldness; anxiety; larvae; domestication; dopamine; opioid receptors

Published in

2022, volume: 7, number: 4, article number: 197
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Axling, Johanna
Uppsala University
Jakobsson, Hampus
Uppsala University
Frymus, Natalia
Uppsala University
Thornqvist, Per-Ove
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Winberg, Svante
Uppsala University

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science

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