The zebrafish gastrointestinal system matures in a manner akin to higher vertebrates. We describe nine mutations that perturb development of these organs. Normally, by the fourth day postfertilization the digestive organs are formed, the epithelial cells of the intestine are polarized and express digestive enzymes, the hepatocytes secrete bile, and the pancreatic islets and acini generate immunoreactive insulin and carboxypeptidase A, respectively. Seven mutations cause arrest of intestinal epithelial development after formation of the tube but before cell polarization is completed. These perturb different regions of the intestine. Six preferentially affect foregut, and one the hindgut. In one of the foregut mutations the esophagus does not form. Two mutations cause hepatic degeneration. The pancreas is affected in four mutants, all of which also perturb anterior intestine. The pancreatic exocrine cells are selectively affected in these four mutations. Exocrine precursor cells appear, as identified by GATA-5 expression, but do not differentiate and acini do not form. The pancreatic islets are spared, and endocrine cells mature and synthesize insulin. These gastrointestinal mutations may be informative with regard to patterning and crucial lineage decisions during organogenesis, and may be relevant to diabetes, congenital dysmorphogenesis and disorders of cell proliferation.

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