Phenotyping Mice


The MBP provides investigators with a full range of morphological, metabolic, organismal, behavioral, and pathological assays that can be fully customized to characterize mutant mouse models as adults and embryos.  You can send mice to us for phenotyping that were created in your laboratory or were made by or obtained from other laboratories or institutions. Alternatively, you can select mice from the on-line catalogs of mutant mouse models here in our Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center (MMRRC) and our Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) Repository for phenotyping at MBP.  Or, if the mutant mouse model doesn't exist yet, the MBP can make and phenotype it for you.  Any allele, any genetic background, any condition (e.g., high fat diet), the MBP is your one-stop-shop for all your mouse phenotyping needs.   You have 24/7/365 access to all of your data, images and project-related documents uploaded directly to your personal project page in our online and secure project tracking system (PTS).

The MBP Phentoyping Center has been in operation since 2001.   We operate in a newly remodeled 1130 sq. ft. laboratory within the MBP facility.  There are eleven separate testing rooms, adjacent animal housing, and an office/scheduling area. 

Mice housed and raised for phenotyping are maintained in a dedicated mouse housing room (capacity=700) in the MBP. This room is immediately adjacent to the MBP Phenotyping Center.  Polycarbonate caging is mounted in OPTI-mouse carousel cage racks with negative pressure ventilation of individual cages. Professional veterinary services are provided by the MBP Vivarium and Animal Health Division.


Learn How To Ship Your Mouse Models To The MBP For Phenotyping


Experienced vivarium and veterinary care staff will assist you with the transfer and importation of your mice or tissue samples to our facility for testing. If the health status of the exporting facility does not permit direct importation of mice to our conventional facility, we can re-derive your line into our SPF barrier facility and breed up a colony for testing. We will also coordinate the purchase and importation of any vendor mice required for your tests.


Learn More About Morphological Phenotyping At The MBP


   The MBP Phenotyping core offers a wide variety of diagnostic services that include, but are not limited to, the following

    • SHIRPA utilizes standardized protocols for behavioral and functional assessment that provide a sensitive measure for quantifying phenotype expression in the mouse. This procedure will examine mice for obvious physical characteristics, behaviors and morphological abnormalities including defects in gait or posture, motor control and co-ordination, changes in excitability and aggression, salivation, lacrimation, piloerection, defecation, reflex reactions, and muscle tone.
  •  Body weight
    • This procedure will provide a measure of body weight gain or loss to the mouse over a given period of time. All balances are calibrated and verified before each use to ensure accurate measurements.
  • Eye Exam
    • This procedure will identify abnormalities in eye morphology. The anterior of both eyes will be assessed, iris/pupil light response will be checked, anterior and posterior exam of both dilated eyes will also be assessed. Any abnormalities will be noted and captured by image if requested.


  • Faxitron X-Ray
    • This procedure will construct and analyze digital X-ray images in immobilized mice using Faxitron X-ray system.
  • Mouse Sperm Phenotyping (information to be provided)
  • Tissue and organ collection
    • A highly skilled necropsy team can collect and fix any tissue/organ to meet the needs of the study design.


  • Embryo Collection
    • Embryos can be annotated and collected at E8.5 to E18.5. Additionally imaging of the embryos can also be provided if requested.
  • H&E staining
    • Hematoxylin and eosin stain is the standard stain in histology, especially for diagnostic work.  Hematoxylin stains nuclei blue and Eosin stains eosinophillic structures in various shades of red, pink, and orange.  We can now do H&E staining on both frozen sections and paraffin embedded sections.  In addition, we can also process tissues to frozen sections (dissection of tissues, fixation or no fixation, freezing, cryostat sectioning, and then H&E staining) and to paraffin (dissection of tissue, fixation, tissue processing to paraffin, sectioning, and then H&E staining).


  • LacZ staining of whole mount organs
    • The tissue is dissected and processed (fixation), stained with Lac-Z (an enzymatic stain) and then the resulting blue stain is imaged.
  • Tissue and slide imaging
    • Imaging of tissue sections and whole mounts


Using our Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), we can also measure adiposity and lean mass in live mice.


Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will customize our services to meet your project needs.


Learn More About Metabolic Phenotyping


As part of the NIH-funded Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center (MMPC), which was established to provide advanced metabolic phenotypic analyses and assessments for investigators with mutant mice, the MMPC@UCDavis is focused on metabolism, endocrinology, body composition, thermoregulation, food intake behavior, cardiovascular biology and pathology.

We offer over 60 metabolic assays, 16 chamber Comprehensive Laboratory Animal Monitoring System (CLAMS), echocardiography, gut microbiome assays, gross body composition and services to generate a bariatric mouse models.

 To learn more about how you can take advantage of the services offered by MMPC@UCDavis, including a full list of services in our Catalog, please visit today.



Learn More About Phenotyping Behavior


Genetically-altered mutant mice created using transgenic and gene-targeting approaches may develop significant behavioral abnormalities solely as a result of their induced mutation. MBP has a full service behavioral core facility dedicated to assisting research scientists in characterizing their mouse models. 


 Several standardized behavioral tests are available for “high-throughput” screening of mutants to quickly and efficiently detect abnormalities in memory, motivation, learning, cognitive, motor and sensory abilities. Once defined using a primary screening approach, abnormalities can then be fully characterized by applying secondary and tertiary examinations. 


 Our standardized behavioral tests are all pre-approved by UC Davis IACUC and we will apply for any modifications to this if required by your experiment.


 We offer a variety of tests to measure Emotion and Motivation, Sensory abilities, Motor coordination as well as Learning and Memory. Services we offer include those listed below. 


  1. Developmental Assessments
    • Ultrasonic Vocalization
    • Wahlsten/Weaning Test Battery
  2. General Screening
    • Function Observation Battery
    • Ataxia
    • Metabolic phenotyping
    • Open Field
    • Paylor
  3. Motor Coordination
    • Rota-Rod
    • Grip Strength
    • Motor coordination/challenge
  4. Anxiety
    • Elevated Plus Maze
    • Stereotypy Screen
  5. Social Behavior
    • Social Dyadic Interaction
    • Social Dominance
    • Resident/Intruder
    • Social Transfer of Food preference
    • Nesting behavior
  6. Cognition
    • Morris Water Maze
    • Radial Arm Water Maze
    • Novelty Preference
    • Hole Board
    • Passive Avoidance

     7. Sensory Development

  • Visual Cliff
  • Tail Sensitivity
  • Startle/Sensorimotor Gaiting


Computational, interpretative, and consulting services are all available upon request.  





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