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Keywords:

  • circadian clocks;
  • entrainment;
  • flexibility;
  • photoperiod;
  • robustness

Abstract

Daylight is the primary cue used by circadian clocks to entrain to the day/night cycle so as to synchronize physiological processes with periodic environmental changes induced by Earth rotation.

However, the temporal daylight pattern is not the same every day due to erratic weather fluctuations or regular seasonal changes. Then, how do circadian clocks operate properly in varying weather and seasons? In this paper, we discuss the strategy unveiled by recent studies of the circadian clock of Ostreococcus tauri, the smallest free-living eukaryotic organism. It combines mechanisms controlling light inputs and clock sensitivity, shaping both the dynamics of the core circadian oscillator and its forcing by light so as to ensure stable and precise synchronization in all weather and seasons.

Editor's suggested further reading in BioEssays: Another place, another timer: Marine species and the rhythms of life Abstract