Unveiling Subtle Geographical Clines: Phenotypic Effects and Dynamics of Circadian Clock Gene Polymorphisms

Loren Khatib, Bengisu Sezen Subasi, Bettina Fishman, Martin Kapun, Eran Tauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our understanding of the gene regulatory network that constitutes the circadian clock has greatly increased in recent decades, notably due to the use of Drosophila as a model system. In contrast, the analysis of natural genetic variation that enables the robust function of the clock under a broad range of environments has developed more slowly. In the current study, we analyzed comprehensive genome sequencing data from wild European populations of Drosophila, which were densely sampled through time and space. We identified hundreds of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in nine genes associated with the clock, 276 of which exhibited a latitudinal cline in their allele frequencies. While the effect sizes of these clinal patterns were small, indicating subtle adaptations driven by natural selection, they provided important insights into the genetic dynamics of circadian rhythms in natural populations. We selected nine SNPs in different genes and assessed their impact on circadian and seasonal phenotypes by reconstructing outbred populations fixed for either of the SNP alleles, from inbred DGRP strains. The circadian free-running period of the locomotor activity rhythm was affected by an SNP in doubletime (dbt) and eyes absent (Eya). The SNPs in Clock (Clk), Shaggy (Sgg), period (per), and timeless (tim) affected the acrophase. The alleles of the SNP in Eya conferred different levels of diapause and the chill coma recovery response.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number858
Issue number6
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2023


  • adaptation
  • circadian clock
  • latitudinal cline
  • molecular polymorphism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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