Breakthrough study identifies genetic link between circadian clock and seasonal timing

Posted by ap507 at Sep 05, 2014 09:38 AM |
Research team uncover new insights into day-length measurement in flies
Breakthrough study identifies genetic link between circadian clock and seasonal timing

Image shows chill coma recovery in fruit flies

University researchers from the Tauber Research Lab have for the first time provided experimental evidence for a genetic link between two major timing mechanisms, the circadian clock and the seasonal timer.

The study, which has been published in the academic journal PLOS Genetics, has corroborated previous observations that flies developed under short days become significantly more cold-resistant compared with flies raised in long-days, suggesting that this response can be used to study seasonal photoperiodic timing.

Photoperiodism is the physiological reaction of organisms to the length of day or night, occurring in both plants and animals.

The difference in cold response can be easily seen using the chill-coma recovery assay - in which flies exposed to freezing temperatures enter a reversible narcosis. The recovery time from this narcosis reflects how cold-adaptive the flies are.

The team has demonstrated that this response is largely regulated by the photoperiod - for example, flies exposed to short days (winter-like) during development exhibit shorter recovery times (more cold adapted) during the narcosis test.

The new research, which was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is based on an automated system, allowing the monitoring of hundreds of flies, which paves the way for new insights into our understanding of the genes involved in the photoperiodic response and seasonal timing.

Watch a video demonstrating the impact of the day-length (photoperiod) the flies experience during development on their cold tolerance below:

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