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Michael Barresi

Professor of Biological Sciences

Michael Barresi


Sabin-Reed Hall 401A


Michael Barresi’s research interests are focused on how glial cells help wire the nervous system in the embryonic zebrafish brain. His lab discovered that astroglial cells provide a substrate for midline crossing axons in the forebrain. Further investigation will attempt to determine how the cellular identity of these astroglial cells is established, what molecular cues control glial cell positioning in the brain, and, lastly, how these astroglial cells actively participate in axon guidance. In order to address these questions, his lab uses zebrafish as a model system.

Why zebrafish? The zebrafish has recently become a favorite vertebrate model system to many researchers studying neuroscience. Zebrafish can be bred in a small laboratory space and produce hundreds of embryos a day for analysis. Most importantly, zebrafish are the fastest developing vertebrate model system, going from a one-cell embryo to an embryo with a functioning nervous system in less than 24 hours. Additionally, zebrafish embryos are optically transparent, enabling the observation of single-cell movement and tissue formation in living embryos. Experimentally, zebrafish provide the ability to use genetics, classical embryology, molecular biology, physiology and pharmacology to answer our research questions.

Selected Publications

Devoto, S. H., W. Stoiber, C. L. Hammond, P. Steinbacher, J. R. Haslett, M. J. Barresi, S. E. Patterson, E. Adiarte, and S. M. Hughes. 2006. "Generality of vertebrate developmental patterns: evidence for a dermomyotome in fish." Evolution and Development 8 (1): 101–10.

Barresi, M. J., L. D. Hutson, C. B. Chien, and R. O. Karlstrom. 2005. "Hedgehog regulated Slit expression determines commissure and glial cell position in the zebrafish forebrain." Development 132 (16): 3643–56.

Sbrogna, J. L., M. J. Barresi, and R. O. Karlstrom. 2003. "Multiple roles for Hedgehog signaling in zebrafish pituitary development." Dev Biol. 254 (1): 19–35.

Hernandez, L. P., M. J. F. Barresi, and S. H. Devoto. 2002. "Functional morphology and developmental biology of the zebrafish: reciprocal illumination from an unlikely couple." Integrative and Comparative Biology 42 (2): 222–31.

Barresi, M. J., J. A. D'Angelo, L. P. Hernandez, and S. H. Devoto. 2001. "Distinct mechanisms regulate slow-muscle development." Curr Biol. 11 (18): 1432–8.

Stickney, H. L., M. J. Barresi, and S. H. Devoto. 2000. "Somite development in zebrafish." Dev Dyn. 219 (3): 287–303. Review.

Barresi, M. J., H. L. Stickney, and S. H. Devoto. 2000. "The zebrafish slow-muscle-omitted gene product is required for Hedgehog signal transduction and the development of slow muscle identity." Development. 127 (10): 2189–99.


Ph.D., Wesleyan University
B.A., Merrimack College

Personal website

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks