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J Biol Rhythms. 1993 Spring;8(1):67-94.

Behavior in light-dark cycles of Drosophila mutants that are arrhythmic, blind, or both.

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Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254.


Certain of the rhythm mutations in Drosophila melanogaster lead to arrhythmic locomotor activity (and aperiodic eclosion) in constant conditions. In light-dark (LD) cycles, however, such mutants exhibit clear fluctuations between high levels of activity when the lights are on and much lower ones when they are off. Our data, in contrast to some previous conclusions, strongly suggest that period0 (per0) adults are, in LD conditions, merely being "forced" into exhibiting periodic behavior. These experiments involved application of 8-, 12-, 16-, and 24-hr LD cycles, in which the arrhythmic mutant could have any of these periodicities imposed upon it, whereas wild-type flies tended to exhibit periods of about 24 hr in cycling conditions whose T values were > 8 hr different from 24. In phase-shift experiments, it was found that Drosophila expressing genotypes associated with rhythmicity achieved a 5-hr advance over a 2-day period following an advanced lights-on; per0 adults altered the phase of their locomotor peaks more rapidly. Against a background of the fact that eyeless or blind flies exhibit normal entrainment, it was hypothesized that double-mutant flies--carrying such visual mutations and per0 as well--should not synchronize to LD cycles, if the forced rhythms seen in the latter single-mutant type are mediated solely by light input through the external photoreceptors. Since an appreciable proportion of the double mutants did synchronize (to LD 12:12), it is thus suggested that the visual cues involved in forcing rhythmicity could be input through the same extraocular photoreceptors that, in general, subserve the fly's rhythm system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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