edited by B. Rautenstrauß and T. Liehr
 Springer-Verlag (2002) 424 pages. ISBN 3-540-67276-1

The powerful technique of fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) has developed rapidly over the past 25 years and has been used to study many aspects of genome behaviour. There are some very clever people working away at the `filleting edge' to make this method more versatile, more specific, more sensitive, more colouful and more suitable for different materials.

FISH Technology is edited by two German Scientists,Rautenstrauß and Liehr, and contains 36 chapters full to the gills of modern state-of-the-art FISH techniques. The Editors have netted many of the experts in their particular field to write these chapters.

Surprisingly, there are relatively few books around describing FISH and its associated techniques, and certainly if one is interested in more than the basics it can mean trawling through inadequate method sections of papers. In Rautenstrauß and Liehr's manual most of the cutting edge techniques are here and are well described, and it contains some colour images. It is a book that would complement the library of any lab performing FISH experiments and would bring new technologies to labs already scaling the heights or to labs setting out on their journey.

The first two chapters provide an overview of FISH, microscopy and imaging. These chapters are important and form a good introduction to the method for graduate students or researchers diving into the FISH world. They cover aspects of FISH that would not normally come to light if people were teaching themselves, for example, the historical perspective, other related technologies and the reasons for developing specific techniques. The chapter on imaging will be very helpful to people starting (and continuing) to use microscopy and is written in a way that is rarely seen – advanced physics is not a prerequisite!

I was impressed by the organisation of FISH Technology: the basics are covered in chapter 3, and the following chapters describe FISH methods in various cell types (hair root cells, sperm and amniotic fluid cells),different organisms (yeast, viruses and insects), different fixations(archival material, formalin and paraffin) as wells as special techniques such as fibre FISH, peptide–nucleic-acid FISH, chromosome orientation and chromosome orientation and direction FISH, nuclease-digestion FISH, DNA-strand breakage FISH and others.

One of the strengths of this book is the description of FISH techniques that have been developed to answer more specific questions about DNA structure and behaviour. These techniques can be employed by labs that are not used to using FISH applications. Furthermore, the chapters describing FISH in different organisms will be very helpful to yeast geneticists and virologists and demonstrate the power of the improved resolution of FISH. However, it would have been nice to see some discussion of FISH in other organisms, but to be fair these have been discussed in other books, and the authors have concentrated on the simpler organisms, which are more difficult to use this technique on.

There is a comprehensive section on multicolour FISH, with the most exciting chapters for me being the ones describing the combination of this technique with immunohistochemistry to reveal specific antigens. The simultaneous delineation of nuclei acid sequences and protein will make a big difference to tumour cytogenetics research and diagnostic labs.

So, `mullet' over, there may be a `ray' of hope – you too could become a `dab' hand at FISHing using this book.

P.S. My PhD student has recently been using this book and praised it without knowing I was reviewing it – what better endorsement could there be?