Insect photoperiodism and circadian clocks: Models and mechanisms

E. Tauber, B. P. Kyriacou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Photoperiodic clocks allow organisms to predict the coming season. In insects, the seasonal adaptive response mainly takes the form of diapause. The extensively studied photoperiodic clock in insects was primarily characterized by a "black-box" approach, resulting in numerous cybernetic models. This is in contrast with the circadian clock, which has been dissected pragmatically at the molecular level, particularly in Drosophila. Unfortunately, Drosophila melanogaster, the favorite model organism for circadian studies, does not demonstrate a pronounced seasonal response, and consequently molecular analysis has not progressed in this area. In the current article, the authors explore different ways in which identified molecular components of the circadian pacemaker may play a role in photoperiodism. Future progress in understanding the Drosophila circadian pacemaker, particularly as further output components are identified, may provide a direct link between the clock and photoperiodism. In addition, with improved molecular tools, it is now possible to turn to other insects that have a more dramatic photoperiodic response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-390
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Clock models
  • Drosophila
  • Molecular genetics
  • Photoperiodism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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