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Lecture "Evolution of circadian clocks in bilaterian creatures (great and small)"


Nearly all organisms possess a circadian clock, a genetically determined device that generates endogenous oscillations within a period of approximately 24 hours. From a molecular perspective, the circadian clock relies on negative transcription-translation feedback loops. In insects, the molecular and genetic basis of the circadian clock machinery has been revealed by the remarkable genetic tools available to the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. However, the dawn of reverse genetics methods applicable to non-model species has led to recent significant advances in our understanding of the circadian clock beyond Drosophila. To illustrate the evolution of the molecular mechanism behind the circadian clock, I will start with in silico comparison of the clock setup across bilaterian animals. Then I would like to provide some functional evidence from a basal insect, the linden bug Pyrrhocoris apterus, a model with both Drosophila and mammalian clock components. Although our main focus is insect clocks, for which we have and will show detailed functional data, I will attempt to interpret the result in a broader context. Furthermore, I would like to present our ongoing phylogenetic analysis of circadian clock evolution in vertebrates. In other words, I would like to talk about circadian clocks and illustrate that even non-model organisms, including insects, might be informative for mammalian research. 

IPHYS contact person: Martin Sládek, martin.sladek@fgu.cas.cz