Makenzie Reed's Research

Makenzie Reed smiling while posing next to her zebrafish research poster

A seminal event in vertebrate evolution was the water to land transition when fishes first came out of the water. In the suite of traits associated with an amphibious existence was the loss of fin rays that benefit swimming but not terrestrial locomotion. Makenzie utilizes a zebrafish model (Danio rerio) that have been bred for exaggerated fin characteristics to better understand the role of the caudal fin in terrestrial locomotion.

Makenzie’s research employs high-speed cinematography, clearing and staining of bone and cartilage, histology, and behavioral analyses. From her work, we understand that fishes with larger fins cannot perform sustained terrestrial locomotor behaviors which was likely the selection pressure that led to the loss of fins in the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates.

Makenzie was awarded two URC grants (2020 and 2021) and a travel award to present her findings at the national conference for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in Phoenix Arizona.

Two Zebrafish side my side on a table