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Insects have to cope with a wide range of environmental factors in order to thrive – disease, drought and habitat changes. Scientists hope that studying insect biology and behaviour could help humans cope with problems from climate change to disease control, shift work and even jet lag.
The study of body clocks in plants and animals is known as chronobiology. Bugs provide a good test model to study such attributes, which are important for animals to regulate their activities, metabolism and development on a daily and seasonal basis. At the Institute for Entomology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the InPhoTime project, funded by the EU's European Research Council (ERC), has been examining the molecular rhythms that help animals tell time.
October - Nobel - Prize - Physiology - Medicine
In October, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017 was awarded jointly to Professor Jeffrey C. Hall, Professor Michael Rosbash and Professor Michael W. Young for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm made through the study of fruit flies.
Dr David Doležel, who leads InPhoTime, was working with Prof. Hall during his post-doctorate in the US on circadian clocks when he hit upon an idea. "All organisms, including humans and flies, have a clock to know what time of the day it is," he said. "It's beneficial for organisms to know if its morning or evening. Similarly, if we look at some organisms … it's beneficial to anticipate seasonal changes … especially for organisms that rely on food supply and weather like insects."
Dr - Doležel - Goal - Explanation - Insects
Dr Doležel's goal is to try to uncover a molecular explanation for how insects measure shorter days in the lead up to winter through a biological mechanism known as the photoperiodic timer.
"Even if the temperature is still hot in August, for instance, many insects or plants know that the season will soon change," he said. Such...
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