The Drosophila circadian phase response curve to light: Conservation across seasonally relevant photoperiods and anchorage to sunset

Hannah K. Dollish, Sevag Kaladchibachi, David C. Negelspach, Fabian Xosé Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Photic history, including the relative duration of day versus night in a 24-hour cycle, is known to influence subsequent circadian responses to light in mammals. Whether such modulation is present in Drosophila is currently unknown. To date, all photic phase-response curves (PRCs) generated from Drosophila have done so with animals housed under seasonally agnostic equatorial photoperiods with alternating 12-hour segments of light and darkness. However, the genus contains thousands of species, some of which populate high and low-latitude habitats (20–50° north or south of the Equator) where seasonal variations in the light-dark schedule are pronounced. Here, we address this disconnect by constructing the first high-resolution Drosophila seasonal atlas for light-induced circadian phase-resetting. Testing the light responses of over 4,000 Drosophila at 120 timepoints across 5 seasonally-relevant rectangular photoperiods (i.e., LD 8:16, 10:14, 12:12, 14:10, and 16:8; 24 hourly intervals surveyed in each), we determined that many aspects of the fly circadian PRC waveform are conserved with increasing daylength. Surprisingly though, irrespective of LD schedule, the start of the PRCs always remained anchored to the timing of subjective sunset, creating a differential overlap of the advance zone with the morning hours after subjective sunrise that was maximized under summer photoperiods and minimized under winter photoperiods. These data suggest that there may be differences in flies versus mammals as to how the photoperiod modulates the waveform and amplitude of the circadian PRC to light. On the other hand, they support the possibility that the lights-off transition determines the phase-positioning of photic PRCs across seasons and across species. More work is necessary to test this claim and whether it might factor into the timing of seasonal light responses in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113691
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Circadian rhythms
  • Light
  • Phase shift
  • Photic history
  • Photoperiod
  • Season

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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