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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 20;108(38):16110-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1111076108. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

Circadian cycles are the dominant transcriptional rhythm in the intertidal mussel Mytilus californianus.

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Department of Biology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.


Residents in the marine intertidal, the zone where terrestrial and marine habitats converge, inhabit an environment that is subject to both the 24-h day and night daily rhythm of the terrestrial earth and also the 12.4-h ebb and flow of the tidal cycle. Here, we investigate the relative contribution of the daily and tidal cycle on the physiology of intertidal mussels, Mytilus californianus, by monitoring rhythms of gene expression in both simulated and natural tidal environments. We report that >40% of the transcriptome exhibits rhythmic gene expression, and that depending on the specific tidal conditions, between 80% and 90% of the rhythmic transcripts follow a circadian expression pattern with a period of 24 to 26 h. Consistent with the dominant effect of the circadian cycle we show that the expression of clock genes oscillates with a 24-h period. Our data indicate that the circadian 24-h cycle is the dominant driver of rhythmic gene expression in this intertidal inhabitant despite the profound environmental and physiological changes associated with aerial exposure during tidal emergence.

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