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Small animal models have been invaluable for determining physiological gene function. Techniques for gene modifications in fly, worm, fish, and mouse genomes are commercially available and relatively easy to use for various applications. Though gene functions are often conserved from lower organism to higher organisms, use of a vertebrate system increases the likelihood of conserved function in humans. Mice and zebrafish are two of the most cost effective vertebrate models. Each has its advantages as indicated in the table below.

Mouse ModelZebrafish Model
Evolutionarily closer to humansNext closest animal model to humans (~70%)
Mutagenic stem cell lines available for most mouse genesThousands of mutant fish lines available and TALEN and CRISP-R technologies are easy to use
In vivo developmentEmbryonic phenotypes are visible due to transparent and ex vivo development
Limited number of data pointsHundreds of embryos are generated weekly providing for statistically robust data
Fast development: ~3 monthsFast development: ~3 months
Higher housing cost and space requirements (~$20/cage monthly)Low housing cost and space requirements ($6/tank of 10 fish monthly)

Courtesy of Leigh Ann Samsa