Timely Questions Emerging in Chronobiology: The Circadian Clock Keeps on Ticking

J Circadian Rhythms. 2024 Apr 2:22:2. doi: 10.5334/jcr.237. eCollection 2024.


Chronobiology investigations have revealed much about cellular and physiological clockworks but we are far from having a complete mechanistic understanding of the physiological and ecological implications. Here we present some unresolved questions in circadian biology research as posed by the editorial staff and guest contributors to the Journal of Circadian Rhythms. This collection of ideas is not meant to be comprehensive but does reveal the breadth of our observations on emerging trends in chronobiology and circadian biology. It is amazing what could be achieved with various expected innovations in technologies, techniques, and mathematical tools that are being developed. We fully expect strengthening mechanistic work will be linked to health care and environmental understandings of circadian function. Now that most clock genes are known, linking these to physiological, metabolic, and developmental traits requires investigations from the single molecule to the terrestrial ecological scales. Real answers are expected for these questions over the next decade. Where are the circadian clocks at a cellular level? How are clocks coupled cellularly to generate organism level outcomes? How do communities of circadian organisms rhythmically interact with each other? In what way does the natural genetic variation in populations sculpt community behaviors? How will methods development for circadian research be used in disparate academic and commercial endeavors? These and other questions make it a very exciting time to be working as a chronobiologist.

Keywords: Algae; Allelic variation; Chronotherapy; Circadian; Circadian alignment; Circalunar; Circatidal; Crop plants; Entrainment; Food-entrainable oscillator; Imaging; Immunity; Liquid-liquid phase separation; Melatonin; Modeling; Mosquito biting; Photoperiod; Redox; Retina; Seasonal migration; Sleep; Structural biology; Synchrony; Urbanisation; phenotypes.

Publication types

  • Review