IMAGING AND ANALYSIS OF LARVAL ZEBRAFISH GUT MOTILITY, AND AUTOMATED TOOLS FOR 3D MICROSCOPY
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Nearly all individual members of the animal kingdom have gastrointestinal tracts which feature unique cellular compositions, geometries, and temporal dynamics. These guts are distinct enough from one another, even across siblings or even across the same individual at different points in space and time, that defining meaningful scientific representations of those features is difficult. Studying these guts is also innately challenging as it requires accessing to the insides of the enclosed 3D volumes. The work presented here describes tools and methodologies designed to address these difficulties. To investigate gut motility, we constructed a combined light sheet fluorescence and differential interference contrast microscope to obtain videos of larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) gut motility and to obtain 3D information about nearby fluorescently tagged cells. Using advanced computer vision algorithms, we quantified aspects of zebrafish gut motility which have never before been characterized, then used that information to identify the effects of different genetic, chemical, and physiological states of zebrafish gut motility. Finally, we designed and constructed an instrument for automating 3D microscopy for future studies. This dissertation includes previously published and unpublished co-authored material.