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Presentation Title: Investigating Schooling Behavior in the Cavefish Astyanax mexicanus Discipline: Genetics School: Harvard Medical School Presentation Type: Poster Presentation Abstract: Investigating Schooling Behavior in the Cavefish Astyanax mexicanus Zack McDonald, The University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK Mentors: Nicholas Rohner, PhD; Cliff Tabin, PhD Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA Our study seeks to investigate the ability to swim in a school in the blind cavefish species Astyanax mexicanus using QTL analysis in a F2 incross of a surface and a cave fish. As eye size and the ability to see vary in the hybrids, it is critical to address the vision capacity in the F2 population under study. We transferred single fish of the F2 progeny into a tank and recorded for five minutes using a camera mounted directly above the tank. We analyzed the videos afterward and recorded the period of time that each fish spent in the light region of the tank versus the dark. The assay was successful in identifying and quantifying the F2 progeny that can see. We found that approximately 50% of the fish preferred the dark region of the tank. A number of fish spent between 40% and 60% of their time in the dark. By determining which fish exhibit a scototaxic response to light exposure, we now know which fish to include in future studies. It is the population that has functional vision but that did not school according to previously collected data that will be used in QTL analysis. This project is aimed at locating the chromosomal site of mutation responsible for the loss of schooling behavior in the cave morph.

Presenter: Zack McDonald Tribe: Choctaw Primary Email: Biography McDonald is a sophomore zoology and international studies double major at the University of Oklahoma pursuing a career as a physician. His research took place in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School in the summer of 2011 where he represented the Choctaw Nation in the Four Directions Summer Research Program. His medical interests include American Indian health disparities and international public health. At OU, Zack is an Honors Undergraduate Research Assistant, regularly volunteers at Manos Juntas, a free clinic for the uninsured, and has traveled on a medical mission trip to Honduras with OU Global Medical Brigades.


2011 National Conference Student Research Abstracts  
2011 National Conference Student Research Abstracts  

A comprehensive list of the student research topics that will be presented at the AISES 2011 National Conference