Evolutionary divergence of circadian and photoperiodic phenotypes in the pitcher-plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii

Derrick Mathias, Laura K. Reed, William E. Bradshaw, Christina M. Holzapfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


For decades, chronobiologists have investigated the relationship between the circadian clock that mediates daily activities and the photoperiodic timer that mediates seasonal activities. The main experiment used to infer a circadian basis for photoperiodic time measurement is the Nanda-Hamner protocol (NH). Herein, the authors compare additive and nonadditive (dominance and epistasis) genetic effects that lead to the divergence of populations of the pitcher-plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii, for critical photoperiod (CPP) and amplitude of the rhythmic response to NH for 3 temporal-geographic scales: 1) Over geological time between populations in northern and southern clades, 2) over millennial time between populations within the northern clade, and 3) over generational time between lines selected for long and short CPP from within a single population. The authors show that the pattern of additive, dominance, and epistatic effects depends on the time scale over which populations or lines have diverged. Patterns for genetic differences between populations for CPP and response to NH reveal similarities over geological and millennial time scales but differences over shorter periods of evolution. These results, and the observation that neither the period nor amplitude of the NH rhythm are significantly correlated with CPP among populations, lead the authors to conclude that the rhythmic response to NH has evolved independently of photoperiodic response in populations of W. smithii. The implication is that in this species, genetic modification of the circadian clock has not been the basis for the adaptive modification of photoperiodic time measurement over the climatic gradient of North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Critical photoperiod
  • Evolutionary divergence
  • Genetic architecture
  • Nanda-Hamner
  • Photoperiodic time measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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