The circadian activity rhythm is reset by nanowatt pulses of ultraviolet light

David C. Negelspach, Sevag Kaladchibachi, Fabian Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The circadian pacemaker synchronizes to the Earth's rotation by tracking step-by-step changes in illumination that occur as the sun passes the horizon. While twilight progressions of irradiance and colour are considered important stimuli in this process, comparably less thought has been given to the possibility that ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation might actually play a more formative role given its evolutionary significance in shaping 24 h timekeeping. Here, we show that Drosophila activity rhythms can be phase-shifted by UVA light at an energy range seated well below that of the visible spectrum. Because the energy threshold for this resetting matches the incident amount of UVA on the human retina at twilight, our results suggest that UVA light has the potential to function as a similar time cue in people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20181288
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1884
StatePublished - Aug 15 2018


  • Circadian
  • Light
  • Photostimulation
  • Rhythms
  • Ultraviolet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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