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Avnika

Avnika Ruparelia

Year of Award: 2017 Award State: Victoria
The Dr Dorothea Sandars and Irene Lee Churchill Fellowship to investigate the molecular cues that drive age-related muscle wasting using Killifish - Germany

Highlights and lessons

The majority of my fellowship was spent at the Leibniz Institute of ageing in Jena (Germany) under the guidance of Professor Christoph Englert, a pioneer of killifish research. Here, I collected muscle samples from killifish of different ages, which will be used for histological, molecular and metabolomics studies. Additionally, from Beate Hoppe and her team at the killifish facility I obtained knowledge on how to effectively run a successful killifish facility.
 
Based on the biology of killifish in their natural environment, standard operating protocols for using killifish for research have been generated. These include protocols for killifish breeding, egg collection and incubation, hatching, feeding regimes and maintenance of water quality. These protocols need to be followed to successfully run a killifish research facility. Additionally, cleanliness in the facility is imperative. Killifish are very susceptible to disease and therefore it is important to use clean tanks and ensure the facility is kept neat and tidy. It is advisable to control the number of people who have access to the facility and ensure all personnel wear laboratory coats and shoe covers – thus preventing transmission of pathogens into the system.
 
With regards to use of killifish for research, many of the tools, and techniques used for zebrafish research are also suitable for killifish research. There is a gender bias in the growth trajectory of killifish in that males are significantly bigger than females. As such gender of the fish must be taken into consideration when using killifish for ageing research. Finally, whilst the appearance of typical ageing biomarkers have been reported in various tissues, including the skin, liver, kidney and brain, of aged killifish the effects of ageing on muscle have not been investigated. Therefore, before killifish can be used for understanding the mechanistic basis of sarcopenia, the muscle of aged killifish needs to be characterized.
 
Key words: Ageing, Carcopenia, muscle, muscle wasting, Killifish, fish models, atrophy