Why do we sleep at night? What causes jet lag? How can molecules measure time? To answer these and related questions we study biological systems for daily time keeping that are known as circadian clocks. Circadian clocks allow organisms to organize their bodily functions in a daily schedule and keep their internal rhythms in sync with environmental rhythms of light and temperature. We would like to know what genes and molecules are involved in the function of circadian clocks and how they function together to measure time and coordinate biological rhythms.
For our research we use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as an experimental model. This model system is not only convenient to use, but it also offers powerful tools for conducting genetic, molecular, and behavioural studies. Moreover, as it turns out, the molecular mechanisms of the clock in Drosophila are very similar to those in mammals and we have already learned a lot about the internal clocks of humans by studying flies.
Over the years we have worked on:
- Cataloguing the clock-controlled transcripts in Drosophila heads (Neuron 32:657, 2001; PLoS Genet 2:e39, 2006).
- Data analysis methods to detect oscillatory trends across independent data sets (Methods Enzymol 393:34, 2005).
- Identification of the separate and combined contributions of environmental light, temperature, and the internal circadian clock in generating daily expression rhythms in adult Drosophila heads (PLoS Genet 2:e39, 2006; PLoS Genet 3:e54, 2007)
- Determination of properties of circadian temperature entrainment in Drosophila that contribute to optimal detection of the time-of-day information encoded in natural environmental temperature profiles (BMC Biol 7:49, 2009).
- Development of a new fluorescence/luminescence technique for imaging of molecular circadian rhythms at single-cell resolution (J Biol Rhythms 25:228, 2010).
- Transgenic Drosophila with conditional circadian clock function (PLoS Genet 7:e1002167, 2011).
Developmental Requirements for Adult Clock Function
It is the objective of this project to identify where and how the conserved transcription complex CLOCK/CYCLE acts during metamorphosis to enable molecular and behavioural circadian rhythms in adult Drosophila.
’CATAC’, A Novel Circadian Promoter Element
This project is focused on describing the regulation of a new cis-regulatory element that mediates circadian transcription.
Karolina Mirowska: Developmental requirement for adult behavioural rhythmicity in Drosophila melanogaster, EU Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
Miguel Ramirez-Moreno: Control of Drosophila circadian behaviour by the RHO1-signalling pathway, Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust
Alex Hull: Developmental control of adult Drosophila sleep/wake rhythms by the conserved transcription factor CLOCK/CYCLE, EU Marie Curie Career Integration Grant
Bethan Shaw: Chronophysiology of Spotted Wing Drosophila, AHDB Horticulture
Charles Hurdle: Multi-functional environmental sensing by CRYPTOCHROME in a Drosophila model, Gerald Kerkut Trust & University of Southampton
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
Affiliate research group(s)
Biomedical Sciences, Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG)
This project aims to provide insight into the molecular basis of behavioural responses to light and magnetic fields in insects.
This project studies how temperature affects daily timekeeping in animals.
This project uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to investigate the developmental role of the conserved circadian clock component CLOCK/CYCLE.
This project studies how regulation of cell structure affects daily timekeeping in animals.
Enhancing control of the soft- and stone- fruit pest Drosophila suzukii (Spotted Wing Drosophila) by exploiting its activity patterns in the field.
Dr Herman Wijnen
Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Room Number: 85/4047
Telephone: (023) 8059 4336