Mandrell, D., Truong, L., Jephson, C., Sarker, M.R., Moore, A., Lang, C., Simonich, M.T., and Tanguay, R.L. (2012) Automated zebrafish chorion removal and single embryo placement: optimizing throughput of zebrafish developmental toxicity screens. Journal of Laboratory Automation. 17(1):66-74.
The potential of the developing zebrafish model for toxicology and drug discovery is limited by inefficient approaches to manipulating and chemically exposing zebrafish embryos—namely, manual placement of embryos into 96- or 384-well plates and exposure of embryos while still in the chorion, a barrier of poorly characterized permeability enclosing the developing embryo. We report the automated dechorionation of 1600 embryos at once at 4 h postfertilization (hpf) and placement of the dechorionated embryos into 96-well plates for exposure by 6 hpf. The process removed =95% of the embryos from their chorions with 2% embryo mortality by 24 hpf, and 2% of the embryos malformed at 120 hpf. The robotic embryo placement allocated 6-hpf embryos to 94.7% ± 4.2% of the wells in multiple 96-well trials. The rate of embryo mortality was 2.8% (43 of 1536) from robotic handling, the rate of missed wells was 1.2% (18 of 1536), and the frequency of multipicks was <0.1%. Embryo malformations observed at 24 hpf occurred nearly twice as frequently from robotic handling (16 of 864; 1.9%) as from manual pipetting (9 of 864; 1%). There was no statistical difference between the success of performing the embryo placement robotically or manually.