Flies in the north: locomotor behavior and clock neuron organization of Drosophila montana

J Biol Rhythms. 2012 Oct;27(5):377-87. doi: 10.1177/0748730412455916.


The circadian clock plays an important role in adaptation in time and space by synchronizing changes in physiological, developmental, and behavioral traits of organisms with daily and seasonal changes in their environment. We have studied some features of the circadian activity and clock organization in a northern Drosophila species, Drosophila montana, at both the phenotypic and the neuronal levels. In the first part of the study, we monitored the entrained and free-running locomotor activity rhythms of females in different light-dark and temperature regimes. These studies showed that D. montana flies completely lack the morning activity component typical to more southern Drosophila species in an entrained environment and that they are able to maintain their free-running locomotor activity rhythm better in constant light than in constant darkness. In the second part of the study, we traced the expression of the PDF neuropeptide and the CRY protein in the neurons of the brain in D. montana adults and found differences in the number and location of PDF- and CRY-expressing neurons compared with those described in Drosophila melanogaster. These differences could account, at least in part, for the lack of morning activity and the reduced circadian rhythmicity of D. montana flies in constant darkness, both of which are likely to be adaptive features during the long and dark winters occurring in nature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cryptochromes / biosynthesis
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Drosophila Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Eye Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Light
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / biosynthesis


  • Cryptochromes
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • cry protein, Drosophila
  • pdf protein, Drosophila