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Data from: Normal vision can compensate for the loss of the circadian clock.

Cite this dataset

Schlichting, Matthias; Menegazzi, Pamela; Helfrich-Förster, Charlotte (2015). Data from: Normal vision can compensate for the loss of the circadian clock. [Dataset]. Dryad.


Circadian clocks are thought to be essential for timing the daily activity of animals, and consequently increase fitness. This view was recently challenged for clock-less fruit flies and mice that exhibited astonishingly normal activity rhythms under outdoor conditions. Compensatory mechanisms appear to enable even clock mutants to live a normal life in nature. Here, we show that gradual daily increases/decreases of light in the laboratory suffice to provoke normally timed sharp morning (M) and evening (E) activity peaks in clock-less flies. We also show that the compound eyes, but not Cryptochrome (CRY), mediate the precise timing of M and E peaks under natural-like conditions, as CRY-less flies do and eyeless flies do not show these sharp peaks independently of a functional clock. Nevertheless, the circadian clock appears critical for anticipating dusk, as well as for inhibiting sharp activity peaks during midnight. Clock-less flies only increase E activity after dusk and not before the beginning of dusk, and respond strongly to twilight exposure in the middle of the night. Furthermore, the circadian clock responds to natural-like light cycles, by slightly broadening Timeless (TIM) abundance in the clock neurons, and this effect is mediated by CRY.

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