In-silico experiments of zebrafish behaviour: Modeling swimming in three dimensions

Violet Mwaffo, Sachit Butail, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zebrafish is fast becoming a species of choice in biomedical research for the investigation of functional and dysfunctional processes coupled with their genetic and pharmacological modulation. As with mammals, experimentation with zebrafish constitutes a complicated ethical issue that calls for the exploration of alternative testing methods to reduce the number of subjects, refine experimental designs, and replace live animals. Inspired by the demonstrated advantages of computational studies in other life science domains, we establish an authentic data-driven modelling framework to simulate zebrafish swimming in three dimensions. The model encapsulates burst-and-coast swimming style, speed modulation, and wall interaction, laying the foundations for in-silico experiments of zebrafish behaviour. Through computational studies, we demonstrate the ability of the model to replicate common ethological observables such as speed and spatial preference, and anticipate experimental observations on the correlation between tank dimensions on zebrafish behaviour. Reaching to other experimental paradigms, our framework is expected to contribute to a reduction in animal use and suffering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number39877
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Jan 10 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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