Clines in clock genes: fine-tuning circadian rhythms to the environment

Charalambos P. Kyriacou, Alexandre A. Peixoto, Federica Sandrelli, Rodolfo Costa, Eran Tauber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The dissection of the circadian clock into its molecular components represents the most striking and well-studied example of a gene regulatory network underlying a complex behavioural trait. By contrast, the evolutionary analysis of the clock has developed more slowly. Here we review studies that have surveyed intraspecific clock gene variation over large geographical areas and have discovered latitudinal clines in gene frequencies. Such spatial patterns traditionally suggest that natural selection shapes genetic variation, but it is equally possible that population history, or a mixture of demography and selection, could contribute to the clines. We discuss how population genetics, together with functional assays, can illuminate these possible cases of natural selection in Drosophila clock genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-132
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
C.P.K. thanks the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award and BBSRC and NERC for grant support. C.P.K. and R.C. acknowledge European Community grants under Frameworks 2, 4 and 6 (EUCLOCK 018741) and Ministero dell’Università e della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica (MURST)/British Council. R.C, also acknowledges a grant from the Italian Space Agency, DCMC grant. A.A.P. is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fiocruz and CNPq. E.T. acknowledges a project grant from NERC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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