Currently Funded Projects
Evolutionary and seasonal adaptation of the fruit fly circadian clock
Our investigations will provide the first basis in understanding the role of the circadian clock in seasonal adaptation using the well characterized model Drosophila melanogaster. In addition, we will contribute to the understanding of circadian clock evolution by investigating fruit fly species adapted for a life at different latitudes.
For more information on the projects FO 207/15-1 and ME 4866/1-1 that are both part of this research work, please click on the projects respectively
Animals have to adapt to seasonal changes in the environment. A too late adaptation to the coming winter will definitively cause their death. Insect start to hibernate (=diapause) when temperatures drop and day-length (photoperiod) decreases below a certain critical value. It is generally thought that the circadian clock is crucial to measure day-length, but the mechanisms how this is done and how the signals about day-lengths are transformed to the diapause inducing hormonal centres in the insect brain are largely unknown.
This Marie Curie Network aims to uncover the mechanisms of photoperiodic control in four model species: The parasitoid wasp, Nasonia vitripennis, the Lindenbug, Pyrrhochoris apterus, the Olive fly, Bactrocera oleae and the genetic model system Drosophila melanogaster. ..more
Collaborative Research Center 1047: Timing in Insects: Mechanisms, Plasticity and Interactions
Funded at the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg from 2013 to 2017
CRC A1: The circadian clock network of selected insects
A prerequisite for understanding the daily timing in insects is the functional characterization of the neuronal clock network in the brain. We propose to contribute to this quest by investigating the clock circuitry and the behaviour of different Drosophila species with sequenced genomes and known ecological habitats (of different latitudes and altitudes). In addition, we will start to characterise the clock of selected hymenopteran species and two aphid morphs studied in projects of areas B and C at the molecular and neuronal level. more
CRC A2: Role of photoreceptors in synchronising Drosophila’s clock to natural conditions
In order to adequately time behaviour, endogenous clocks need to be synchronized to the cyclic environmental changes. Light is the most important Zeitgeber for circadian clocks. In D. melanogaster light is perceived by rhodopsins in the compound eyes, the ocelli and an extraretinal eyelet at the base of the posterior compound eye. In addition, the blue-light photopigment cryptochrome (CRY) is expressed in the eyes and in many clock neurons. Both, rhodopsins and CRY contribute to entrainment of the clock in different ways. Here we aim to clarify the individual functional roles of all photoreceptors in synchronizing the flies’ activity and in timing it optimally to natural light conditions. more
CRC B2: Timing of peptide-orchestrated eclosion behaviour in the fruit fly Drosophila
A key question in neuroscience is to identify the neuronal substrates underlying behaviour. Insect eclosion (i.e. the emergence of the adult insect from the pupa) is a classic model for the orchestration of a behaviour by neuropeptides. In many insects like Drosophila, eclosion is gated (=timed) by the circadian clock. Eclosion assays have been used by Konopka and Benzer in the early 70ies to identify the first clock gene (period). more