Adaptation of Circadian Neuronal Network to Photoperiod in High-Latitude European Drosophilids

Pamela Menegazzi, Elena Dalla Benetta, Marta Beauchamp, Matthias Schlichting, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Charlotte Helfrich-Foerster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The genus Drosophila contains over 2,000 species that, stemming from a common ancestor in the Old World Tropics, populate today very different environments [1, 2] (reviewed in [3]). We found significant differences in the activity pattern of Drosophila species belonging to the holarctic virilis group, i.e., D. ezoana and D. littoralis, collected in Northern Europe, compared to that of the cosmopolitan D. melanogaster, collected close to the equator. These behavioral differences might have been of adaptive significance for colonizing high-latitude habitats and hence adjust to long photoperiods. Most interestingly, the flies' locomotor activity correlates with the neurochemistry of their circadian clock network, which differs between low and high latitude for the expression pattern of the blue light photopigment cryptochrome (CRY) and the neuropeptide Pigment-dispersing factor (PDF) [4-6]. In D. melanogaster, CRY and PDF are known to modulate the timing of activity and to maintain robust rhythmicity under constant conditions [7-11]. We could partly simulate the rhythmic behavior of the high-latitude virilis group species by mimicking their CRY/PDF expression patterns in a laboratory strain of D. melanogaster. We therefore suggest that these alterations in the CRY/PDF clock neurochemistry might have allowed the virilis group species to colonize high-latitude environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-839
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20-Mar-2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • PIGMENT-DISPERSING FACTOR
  • CLOCK NEURONS
  • SPECIES MELANOGASTER
  • LOCOMOTOR BEHAVIOR
  • NATURAL-SELECTION
  • LATERAL NEURONS
  • PDF
  • CRYPTOCHROME
  • RHYTHM
  • BRAIN

Cite this