Water Waves to Sound Waves: Using Zebrafish to Explore Hair Cell Biology

  • Sarah B. Pickett
  • David W. RaibleEmail author
Review Article


Although perhaps best known for their use in developmental studies, over the last couple of decades, zebrafish have become increasingly popular model organisms for investigating auditory system function and disease. Like mammals, zebrafish possess inner ear mechanosensory hair cells required for hearing, as well as superficial hair cells of the lateral line sensory system, which mediate detection of directional water flow. Complementing mammalian studies, zebrafish have been used to gain significant insights into many facets of hair cell biology, including mechanotransduction and synaptic physiology as well as mechanisms of both hereditary and acquired hair cell dysfunction. Here, we provide an overview of this literature, highlighting some of the particular advantages of using zebrafish to investigate hearing and hearing loss.


lateral line system auditory system mechanosensation hearing loss 



The authors thank Eric Thomas for his thoughtful comments and Lavinia Sheets for her insights and expertise in improving this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Association for Research in Otolaryngology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological StructureUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Program in NeuroscienceUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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