Lifespan is unaffected by size and direction of daily phase shifts in Nasonia, a hymenopteran insect with strong circadian light resetting

Theresa S. E. Floessner, Floor E. Boekelman, Stella J. M. Druiven, Maartje de Jong, Pomme M. F. Rigter, Domien G. M. Beersma, Roelof A. Hut

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Most organisms have an endogenous circadian clock with a period length of approximately 24 h that enables adaptation, synchronization and anticipation to environmental cycles. The circadian system (circa = about or around, diem = a day) may provide evolutionary benefits when entrained to the 24-h light-dark cycle. The more the internal circadian period (τ) deviates from the external light-dark cycle, the larger the daily phase shifts need to be to synchronize to the environment. In some species, large daily phase shifts reduce survival rate. Here we tested this 'resonance fitness hypothesis' on the diurnal wasp Nasonia vitripennis, which exhibits a large latitudinal cline in free-running period with longer circadian period lengths in the north than in the south. Longevity was measured in northern and southern wasps placed into light-dark cycles (T-cycles) with periods ranging from 20 h to 28 h. Further, locomotor activity was recorded to estimate range and phase angle of entrainment under these various T-cycles. A light pulse induced phase response curve (PRC) was measured in both lines to understand entrainment results. We expected a concave survival curve with highest longevity at T = τ and a reduction in longevity the further τ deviates from T (τ/T<>1). Our results do not support this resonance fitness hypothesis. We did not observe a reduction in longevity when τ deviates from T. Our results may be understood by the strong circadian light resetting mechanism (type 0 PRC) to single light pulses that we measured in Nasonia, resulting in: (1) the broad range of entrainment, (2) the wide natural variation in circadian free-running period, and (3) the lack of reduced survival when τ/T ratio's deviates from 1. Together this indicates that circadian adaption to latitude may lead to changes in circadian period and light response, without negative influences on survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103896
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Early online date10-Jun-2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2019



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