Spomer, W., Pfriem, A., Alshut, R., Just, S., and Pylatiuk, C. (2012) High-Throughput Screening of Zebrafish Embryos Using Automated Heart Detection and Imaging. Journal of Laboratory Automation. 17(6):435-442.
Over the past decade, the zebrafish has become a key model organism in genetic screenings and drug discovery. A number of
genes have been identified to affect the development of the shape and functioning of the heart, leading to zebrafish mutants
with heart defects. The development of semiautomated microscopy systems has allowed for the investigation of drugs that reverse
a disease phenotype on a larger scale. However, there is a lack of automated feature detection, and commercially available
computer-aided microscopes are expensive. Screening of the zebrafish heart for drug discovery typically includes the identification
of heart parameters, such as the frequency or fractional shortening. Until now, screening processes have been characterized
by manual handling of the larvae and manual microscopy. Here, an intelligent robotic microscope is presented, which automatically
identifies the orientation of a zebrafish in a micro well. A predefined region of interest, such as the heart, is detected
automatically, and a video with higher magnification is recorded. Screening of a 96-well plate takes 35 to 55 min, depending
on the length of the videos. Of the zebrafish hearts, 75% are recorded accurately without any user interaction. A description
of the system, including the graphical user interface, is given.
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