Further evidence that the circadian clock in Drosophila is a population of coupled ultradian oscillators

J Biol Rhythms. Spring 1987;2(1):65-76. doi: 10.1177/074873048700200106.


We hypothesize that ultradian oscillators are coupled to yield a composite circadian clock in Drosophila. In such a system, period would be a function of the tightness of coupling of these oscillators, increasing as coupling loosens. Ultradian oscillations would become apparent under weak coupling or in the absence of coupling. A new technique for calculating signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for biological rhythms to characterize their precision has yielded support for this hypothesis. SNR of rhythms of the allelic series of mutations at the period (per) locus of Drosophila melanogaster were compared. Per(o) was the noisiest, grading through perL, per+, and pers, the least noisy. SNR decreases significantly with increasing period in pers, per+, and perL; per(o) typically has multiple ultradian oscillations and the lowest SNR. At least 70% of perL individuals also exhibit ultradian periodicities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activity Cycles / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Drosophila / physiology*