Coupled oscillators control morning and evening locomotor behaviour of Drosophila

Nature. 2004 Oct 14;431(7010):862-8. doi: 10.1038/nature02926.


Daily rhythms of physiology and behaviour are precisely timed by an endogenous circadian clock. These include separate bouts of morning and evening activity, characteristic of Drosophila melanogaster and many other taxa, including mammals. Whereas multiple oscillators have long been proposed to orchestrate such complex behavioural programmes, their nature and interplay have remained elusive. By using cell-specific ablation, we show that the timing of morning and evening activity in Drosophila derives from two distinct groups of circadian neurons: morning activity from the ventral lateral neurons that express the neuropeptide PDF, and evening activity from another group of cells, including the dorsal lateral neurons. Although the two oscillators can function autonomously, cell-specific rescue experiments with circadian clock mutants indicate that they are functionally coupled.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Genotype
  • Motor Activity / genetics
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / genetics
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Time Factors


  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • cry protein, Drosophila
  • pdf protein, Drosophila