As genetic model systems, fish have played a key role in our understanding of a wide range of biological processes, including vertebrate pigmentation. In this review, we focus on one aspect of pigmentation, skin pigmentation, which has been of momentous importance in human history. Two fish models, medaka and zebrafish, played important roles in demystifying skin color and, by extension, the concept of "race." Related thinking has the potential to make two additional contributions to human welfare. Fish can be used to validate gene candidates from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in what has been called "Systems Genetics." Because fish are familiar vertebrates, and share genetic mechanisms of skin color with humans, they also have outstanding potential as an educational tool-to "demystify" race, to increase public understanding of the role of model systems and evolution in science, and to enhance appreciation of both genetic and environmental factors that impact human health and society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-242
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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