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Circadian clocks in a blind fish
Date:9/6/2011

pecies when they were exposed to a light-dark cycle. While they obtained evidence for a robust circadian clock in the zebrafish that was synchronized with the light cycle, no rhythmicity was detected in the cavefish. However, in a comparable study where both fish were exposed to an alternative timing signal, a regular feeding time, both zebrafish and cavefish displayed circadian clock rhythmicity. Thus, they concluded that the cavefish still has a clock that can be regulated by feeding behaviour, but which cannot be reset by light. In a more detailed study, they were able to show that the cavefish retains a clock that ticks with an abnormally long period. Strikingly, they also found that the lack of its resetting by light is not due to eye loss in this fish; instead, mutations in two widely expressed opsin photoreceptors leave the clocks in most tissues unable to respond to light.

"This work holds great importance for two major fields of interest," explains Nicholas Foulkes, another co-author of the study. "First, it provides a fascinating new insight into how evolution in constant darkness affects animal physiology. While most detailed molecular studies of cavefish have focused on the mechanisms underlying eye loss, very little is known about other, broader adaptations to life without sunlight. Second, this work provides the first genetic evidence for the identity of the widely expressed photoreceptors in fish. This study sets the stage for a more complete understanding of how clocks respond to their environment."


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Contact: Bryan Ghosh
bghosh@plos.org
44-122-344-2837
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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