The period gene of Drosophila carries species-specific behavioral instructions

EMBO J. 1988 Dec 1;7(12):3939-47.


We have analyzed and compared the circadian locomotor activity rhythms of Drosophila melanogaster and D.pseudoobscura. The rhythms of D.pseudoobscura are stronger and the periods shorter than those of D.melanogaster. We have also transformed D.melanogaster flies with a hybrid gene containing the coding region of the D.pseudoobscura period (per) gene. Behavioral assays of flies containing this hybrid gene show that the per protein encoded by the D.pseudoobscura per gene is able to rescue the rhythmic deficiencies of arrhythmic, pero1 D.melanogaster. More important, the rhythms of some of these strains are stronger and the periods shorter than those of D.melanogaster (and those of transformants which carry the equivalent D.melanogaster per gene construct) and hence resemble those of D.pseudoobscura. The results suggest that the primary amino acid sequence of the per gene encodes species-specific behavioral instructions that are detectable when only the per gene is transferred to a different species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Species Specificity
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • RNA, Messenger