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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Feb 15;89(4):1423-7.

Ontogeny of a biological clock in Drosophila melanogaster.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021.


Drosophila melanogaster born and reared in constant darkness exhibit circadian locomotor activity rhythms as adults. However, the rhythms of the individual flies composing these populations are not synchronized with one another. This lack of synchrony is evident in populations of flies commencing development at the same time, indicating that a biological clock controlling circadian rhythmicity in Drosophila begins to function without a requirement for light and without a developmentally imparted phase. It is possible to synchronize the phases of rhythms produced by dark-reared flies with light treatments ending as early as the developmental transition from embryo to first-instar larva: Light treatments occurring at developmental times preceding hatching of the first-instar larva fail to synchronize adult locomotor activity rhythms, while treatments ending at completion of larval hatching entrain these rhythms. The synchronized rhythmic behavior of adult flies receiving such light treatments suggests that a clock controlling circadian rhythms may function continuously from the time of larval hatching to adulthood.

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