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Open Access Research article

Laser surgery of zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos using femtosecond laser pulses: Optimal parameters for exogenous material delivery, and the laser's effect on short- and long-term development

Vikram Kohli* and Abdulhakem Y Elezzabi

Author Affiliations

9107-116 St, Ultrafast Photonics and Nano-Optics Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G2V4, Canada

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BMC Biotechnology 2008, 8:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-8-7

Published: 29 January 2008



Femtosecond (fs) laser pulses have recently received wide interest as an alternative tool for manipulating living biological systems. In various model organisms the excision of cellular components and the intracellular delivery of foreign exogenous materials have been reported. However, the effect of the applied fs laser pulses on cell viability and development has yet to be determined. Using the zebrafish (Danio rerio) as our animal model system, we address both the short- and long-term developmental changes following laser surgery on zebrafish embryonic cells.


An exogenous fluorescent probe, fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC), was successfully introduced into blastomere cells and found to diffuse throughout all developing cells. Using the reported manipulation tool, we addressed whether the applied fs laser pulses induced any short- or long-term developmental effects in embryos reared to 2 and 7 days post-fertilization (dpf). Using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy we compared key developmental features of laser-manipulated and control samples, including the olfactory pit, dorsal, ventral and pectoral fins, notochord, pectoral fin buds, otic capsule, otic vesicle, neuromast patterning, and kinocilia of the olfactory pit rim and cristae of the lateral wall of the ear.


In our study, no significant differences in hatching rates and developmental morphologies were observed in laser-manipulated samples relative to controls. This tool represents an effective non-destructive technique for potential medical and biological applications.