Project Title

Lights, Clock, Action! Circadian Rhythms of Locomotor Activity in Larinioides cornutus Indicate Extreme Flexibility in Photo-entrainment

Authors' Affiliations

Madeleine Miller, Department of Biomedical Sciences, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN Thomas C. Jones, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN Darrell Moore, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Location

Ballroom

Start Date

4-12-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

4-12-2019 2:30 PM

Poster Number

1

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Biological Sciences

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Darrell Moore

Type

Poster: Competitive

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Doctoral

Project's Category

Circadian Rhythms

Project's Category

Natural Sciences

Abstract Text

Circadian clocks are responsible for scheduling many behavioral and physiological processes to occur at the most appropriate time of day. The resulting daily rhythms also synchronize (entrain) to external environmental cues, known as zeitgebers. This phenomenon of entrainment enables organisms to anticipate daily changes in environmental conditions such as sunrise/sunset, temperature variations, availability of prey, etc. Given the critical nature of entrainment to survival, it is no surprise that the mechanism is conserved across taxa. The misalignment of the intrinsic clock with the external environment results in a plethora of negative consequences, made apparent by studies involving shift work and jet lag. The focus of the present study is to investigate the chronobiology of Larinioides cornutus (Araneidae), a nocturnal orb-weaving spider, with an emphasis on its entrainment to light:dark cycles. Because spiders have received scarce attention with respect to their chronobiology, it is instructive to compare the properties of spider circadian systems with those of the more established circadian model systems, such as Drosophilaand Murines. We found that both lights-off and lights-on are equally influential zeitgeber cues for (determines the phasing of) both activity onset and offset. Locomotor activity typically begins within a half hour after nightfall, continues throughout the night, and ceases just prior to dawn. Phase shifting experiments show that these spiders can re-entrain within 2 days to a light/dark cycle shifted by 6 hours, and within 3 days when shifted by 12 hours. These rates of re-entrainment occur at an extremely accelerated rate compared to mammals, which readjust to a time shift at a rate of around 1 day/ 1 hour of phase shift. In other words, spiders have a minimal jet-lag response. This suggests an increased level of plasticity in the spider circadian clock that has yet to be observed in other organisms. Typical of circadian rhythms in nearly all organisms, activity also persisted (free-runs) under constant conditions. However, in constant darkness (DD), a drastic change in periodicity was revealed in 66% of individuals, from 23.4 to 25.2. This particular phenomenon is rare and likely indicates the possible interaction of multiple oscillators. Further evidence to support this interpretation is the consistent periods of the rhythm displayed before and after the change. In contrast, under constant light (LL) conditions, 65% of spiders were arrhythmic, with 4 individuals ceasing activity completely. Significant periods detected in LL were normally distributed over an unusually broad range, from 16.7 to 34.9 hours, suggesting a high sensitivity to light. Because of the unusual rates of re-entrainment to light/dark cycles, the spontaneous changes in free-running period under DD, and arrhythmicity in LL, we propose that spiders are valuable comparative model organism for elucidating fundamental mechanisms of circadian clocks.

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 2:30 PM

Lights, Clock, Action! Circadian Rhythms of Locomotor Activity in Larinioides cornutus Indicate Extreme Flexibility in Photo-entrainment

Ballroom

Circadian clocks are responsible for scheduling many behavioral and physiological processes to occur at the most appropriate time of day. The resulting daily rhythms also synchronize (entrain) to external environmental cues, known as zeitgebers. This phenomenon of entrainment enables organisms to anticipate daily changes in environmental conditions such as sunrise/sunset, temperature variations, availability of prey, etc. Given the critical nature of entrainment to survival, it is no surprise that the mechanism is conserved across taxa. The misalignment of the intrinsic clock with the external environment results in a plethora of negative consequences, made apparent by studies involving shift work and jet lag. The focus of the present study is to investigate the chronobiology of Larinioides cornutus (Araneidae), a nocturnal orb-weaving spider, with an emphasis on its entrainment to light:dark cycles. Because spiders have received scarce attention with respect to their chronobiology, it is instructive to compare the properties of spider circadian systems with those of the more established circadian model systems, such as Drosophilaand Murines. We found that both lights-off and lights-on are equally influential zeitgeber cues for (determines the phasing of) both activity onset and offset. Locomotor activity typically begins within a half hour after nightfall, continues throughout the night, and ceases just prior to dawn. Phase shifting experiments show that these spiders can re-entrain within 2 days to a light/dark cycle shifted by 6 hours, and within 3 days when shifted by 12 hours. These rates of re-entrainment occur at an extremely accelerated rate compared to mammals, which readjust to a time shift at a rate of around 1 day/ 1 hour of phase shift. In other words, spiders have a minimal jet-lag response. This suggests an increased level of plasticity in the spider circadian clock that has yet to be observed in other organisms. Typical of circadian rhythms in nearly all organisms, activity also persisted (free-runs) under constant conditions. However, in constant darkness (DD), a drastic change in periodicity was revealed in 66% of individuals, from 23.4 to 25.2. This particular phenomenon is rare and likely indicates the possible interaction of multiple oscillators. Further evidence to support this interpretation is the consistent periods of the rhythm displayed before and after the change. In contrast, under constant light (LL) conditions, 65% of spiders were arrhythmic, with 4 individuals ceasing activity completely. Significant periods detected in LL were normally distributed over an unusually broad range, from 16.7 to 34.9 hours, suggesting a high sensitivity to light. Because of the unusual rates of re-entrainment to light/dark cycles, the spontaneous changes in free-running period under DD, and arrhythmicity in LL, we propose that spiders are valuable comparative model organism for elucidating fundamental mechanisms of circadian clocks.