Circadian rhythms differ between sexes and closely related species of Nasonia wasps

Rinaldo C Bertossa, Jeroen van Dijk, Wenwen Diao, David Saunders, Leo W Beukeboom, Domien G M Beersma

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Activity rhythms in 24 h light-dark cycles, constant darkness, and constant light conditions were analyzed in four different Nasonia species for each sex separately. Besides similarities, clear differences are evident among and within Nasonia species as well as between sexes. In all species, activity in a light-dark cycle is concentrated in the photophase, typical for diurnal organisms. Contrary to most diurnal insect species so far studied, Nasonia follows Aschoff's rule by displaying long (>24 h) internal rhythms in constant darkness but short (<24 h) in constant light. In constant light, N. vitripennis males display robust circadian activity rhythms, whereas females are usually arrhythmic. In contrast to other Nasonia species, N. longicornis males display anticipatory activity, i.e. activity shortly before light-on in a light-dark cycle. As expected, N. oneida shows activity patterns similar to those of N. giraulti but with important differences in key circadian parameters. Differences in circadian activity patterns and parameters between species may reflect synchronization of specific life-history traits to environmental conditions. Scheduling mating or dispersion to a specific time of the day could be a strategy to avoid interspecific hybridization in Nasonia species that live in sympatry.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60167
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26-Mar-2013


  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Wasps

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