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Second body clock discovered in the speckled sea louse

Posted September 27, 2013
The diminutive speckled sea louse (Eurydice pulchra) boasts two body clocks, one for night and day and another for the ebb and flow of the tide, according to research published today.
Second body clock discovered in the speckled sea louse
Credit: Prifysgol Aberystwyth University

Writing in the journal Current Biology, researchers from Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cambridge and Leicester Universities have confirmed the existence for the first time of a distinct and independent circatidal body clock that follows the 12.4 hour cycle of the tide.

All organisms from simple bacteria to humans have the ability to tell the time using so-called body clocks.

On land and in the air the body clocks of humans, as with most land-dwelling organisms, are synchronized by the light and dark cycles – the circadian cycle.

This is the reason why people experience jet-lag when travelling over several time-zones; their internal clocks are out of kilter with the day/night cycle of the new destination.

However, in the sea, and particularly on the shore, organisms are challenged not only by 24 hour light cycles but also by other regular changes in the environment, the most noticeable of which are the tides that occur every 12.4 hours.

The researchers have been studying the behaviour of the speckled sea louse, examples of which were collected from a beach near Bangor in north Wales.


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