Whipps, C.M., Moss, L.G., Sisk, D.M., Murray, K.N., Tobin, D.M., and Moss, J.B. (2014) Detection of autofluorescent Mycobacterium chelonae in living zebrafish. Zebrafish. 11(1):76-82.
Mycobacterium chelonae is widespread in aquatic environments and can cause mycobacteriosis with low virulence in zebrafish. The risk of infection in zebrafish is exacerbated in closed-recirculating aquatic systems where rapidly growing mycobacteria can live on biofilms, as well as in zebrafish tissues. We have discovered a method of identifying and visualizing M. chelonae infections in living zebrafish using endogenous autofluorescence. Infected larvae are easily identified and can be excluded from experimental results. Because infection may reduce fertility in zebrafish, the visualization of active infection in contaminated eggs of transparent casper females simplifies screening. Transparent fish are also particularly useful as sentinels that can be examined periodically for the presence of autofluorescence, which can then be tested directly for M. chelonae.