Natural selection favors a newly derived timeless allele in Drosophila melanogaster.

Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 07/2007; 316(5833):1895-8. DOI: 10.1126/science.1138412
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Circadian and other natural clock-like endogenous rhythms may have evolved to anticipate regular temporal changes in the environment. We report that a mutation in the circadian clock gene timeless in Drosophila melanogaster has arisen and spread by natural selection relatively recently in Europe. We found that, when introduced into different genetic backgrounds, natural and artificial alleles of the timeless gene affect the incidence of diapause in response to changes in light and temperature. The natural mutant allele alters an important life history trait that may enhance the fly's adaptation to seasonal conditions.

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    ABSTRACT: Some organisms can adapt to seasonal and other environmental challenges by entering a state of dormancy, diapause. Thus, insects exposed to decreased temperature and short photoperiod enter a state of arrested development, lowered metabolism, and increased stress resistance. Drosophila melanogaster females can enter a shallow reproductive diapause in the adult stage, which drastically reduces organismal senescence, but little is known about the physiology and endocrinology associated with this dormancy, and the genes involved in its regulation. We induced diapause in D. melanogaster and monitored effects over 12 weeks on dynamics of ovary development, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, as well as expression of genes involved in endocrine signaling, metabolism and innate immunity. During diapause food intake diminishes drastically, but circulating and stored carbohydrates and lipids are elevated. Gene transcripts of glucagon- and insulin-like peptides increase, and expression of several target genes of these peptides also change. Four key genes in innate immunity can be induced by infection in diapausing flies, and two of these, drosomycin and cecropin A1, are upregulated by diapause independently of infection. Diapausing flies display very low mortality, extended lifespan and decreased aging of the intestinal epithelium. Many phenotypes induced by diapause are reversed after one week of recovery from diapause conditions. Furthermore, mutant flies lacking specific insulin-like peptides (dilp5 and dilp2-3) display increased diapause incidence. Our study provides a first comprehensive characterization of reproductive diapause in D. melanogaster, and evidence that glucagon- and insulin-like signaling are among the key regulators of the altered physiology during this dormancy.
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    ABSTRACT: Functional involvement of a circadian clock in photoperiodism for measuring the length of day or night had been proposed more than 70 years ago, and various physiological experiments have supported the idea. However, the molecular basis of a circadian clock has remained veiled in insects. Nevertheless, our knowledge of the functional elements of a circadian clock governing circadian rhythmicity has advanced rapidly. Since both circadian rhythms and photoperiodism depend on the daily cycles of environmental changes, it is easy to assume that the same clock elements are involved in both processes. Recently, the RNA interference (RNAi) technique clarified that the molecular machinery of a circadian clock governing photoperiodism is identical to that governing circadian rhythmicity. Here, I review the theoretical background of photoperiodic responses incorporating a circadian clock(s) and recent progress on the molecular clockwork involved in photoperiodism in the bean bug Riptortus pedestris and other insect species. I have focused on the intense controversy regarding the involvement of a circadian clock in insect photoperiodism.
    Entomological Science 01/2013; 16(1). · 1.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A major question in chronobiology focuses around the "Bünning hypothesis" which implicates the circadian clock in photoperiodic (day-length) measurement and is supported in some systems (e.g. plants) but disputed in others. Here, we used the seasonally-regulated thermotolerance of Drosophila melanogaster to test the role of various clock genes in day-length measurement. In Drosophila, freezing temperatures induce reversible chill coma, a narcosis-like state. We have corroborated previous observations that wild-type flies developing under short photoperiods (winter-like) exhibit significantly shorter chill-coma recovery times (CCRt) than flies that were raised under long (summer-like) photoperiods. Here, we show that arrhythmic mutant strains, per01, tim01 and ClkJrk, as well as variants that speed up or slow down the circadian period, disrupt the photoperiodic component of CCRt. Our results support an underlying circadian function mediating seasonal daylength measurement and indicate that clock genes are tightly involved in photo- and thermo-periodic measurements.
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