Feeling Fly

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This fly paper caught my eye. It examines how Drosophila monitors daily temperature changes via network of circadian clock regulated neurons. It seems the fly continually integrates temperature informations in order to coordinate sleep and activity patterns.

The work shows that nodes within the circadian network are sensitive to brief changes in temperature, and show that particular neurons are inhibited by heating and excited by cooling. It seems also that light and temperature are processed in distinct ways in the clock neutron network.

Interested to see the use of a fluorescent protein tool called CaMPARI that photo-converts from green to red in proportion to Ca2+ levels –  could this be used in plant work? Would require both light (photo-activation) and temperature manipulation…

The kinetics of temperature response was monitored by measuring intracellular Ca2+ concentrations using a calcium sensor called GCaMP6m and showed that particular neurons showed increases in intracellular calcium during cooling and decreases during heating.

The authors state that their findings reveal that the circadian network transduces brief and transient temperature changes and prolonged increases in temperature in distinct ways.

Thermoreceptors are found in structures in the antennae, called the aristae. Each arista contains both cold-sensitive and heat-sensitive cells. From their figure (below), they found that the responses to cooling and heating were attenuated when the aristae was removed.

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This work is interesting to use since we are trying to understand how plants respond to everyday changes in temperature – both short-term (daily fluctuations) and long term (seasonal) changes in temperature.

Beer o’clock

After a long and difficult day at work, some of us like to treat ourselves to a nice beer. “The clock” by Eden Mill brewery has taken the ‘beer o’clock’ expression almost word for word.

We are now wondering, is this alcohol-seeking behaviour at specific times of the day controlled by our circadian clock?


Photo by Prof John Brown.

Note: we must also remind you that chronic drinking can disrupt circadian rhythms.

EBRS/WCC Manchester Conference


I’ve been in Manchester this week attending the joint European Biological Rhythms Society (EBRS) and World Congress of Chronobiology (WCC). I presented a short communication entitled ‘An hnRNP isoform switch links temperature perception to regulation of the Arabidopsis circadian clock’. It was a wide and varied programme – although plant-clock research was thin on the ground (I was one of only two plant-clock presentations).

The highlight for me though was Michael Menaker’s plenary talk – the ‘grandfather’ of chronobiology research gave an overview of his journey through chronobiology research from when he was a graduate student in the USA  the 1950’s. It was interested to hear him say how easy he felt it was to get funding back then – “…you would need to be a real idiot not to get a grant funded back then” and how the money sloshing about then was largely due to the space race. Another nugget of insight was “If you haven’t done any failed experiments, you haven’t tried hard enough”

Another quote that stuck with me was from Ueli Schibler’s Plenary lecture – the quote is, I think, attributed to Bertrand Russell – Mathematician/Philosopher/Writer and Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1950 – when he said “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important”.


Bower Building chimney, University of Glasgow - view from just outside the lab
Bower Building chimney, University of Glasgow – view from just outside the lab

I suppose ‘It’s About Time’ we actually posted something!

It’s taken us a while but hopefully this is the start of an interesting way to disseminate what we get up to in our labs and provide a sort of diary of our activities.

During the establishment of this blog we’ve talked a lot about how time and seasons seemed to be a huge influence on artists and songwriters (I’ve been introduced to the delights of Fairport Convention & The Incredible String Band, for example) and I’m sure that this will be a subject of future posts – Time and the passage of Time sure seems to get under our skins, no?

Anyway, welcome to our blog! We are chronobiologists and we like splicing!