Work Package 10 (ESR 11)

Visual/circadian interaction

General details


Universytet Jagiellonski, Krakow (PL)

Prof Elzbieta Pyza

ESR 11
Praveena Pentakota

Other partners involved
University of Leicester, UK
Actual Analytics


University of Leicester for 6 months in Year 2 to learn molecular biology and Nasonia biology. Some of this time will also be spent at Oxitec learning Olive fly biology.


  • To detect circadian inputs to the visual system.
  • To learn how molecular manipulations of processes in neurons and glial cells in the visual system affect the circadian system and behaviour.
  • To develop a model of circadian visual circuit and test its plasticity under different photoperiods and in agriculture important insect species.


  • Study photoperiodic effects on behaviour and photoreceptor synapses (ICC)
  • Modulate activity of visual neurons and glia by misexpressing membrane channel proteins and examine neuronal and circadian behavioural consequences (Gal4-UAS, ICC)
  • Downregulate circadian-relevant neuropeptides and examine consequences for visual system rhythmicity (Gal4, ICC)
  • RNAi of relevant circadian/neuropeptide genes in Nasonia and Olive fly and phenotypic analysis (molecular biology, gene expression, behaviour, ICC)


Interactions between the fly visual and circadian systems
The visual system of D. melanogaster shows several circadian rhythms in activity of the retinal photoreceptors, in the number of synaptic contacts between the photoreceptor terminals and the first order interneurons as well as in morphology of interneurons and glial cells located in the first optic neuropil (lamina) of the optic lobe. The effects of disruption of these rhythms on the central clock and on behaviour, especially on the entrainment of circadian clocks to daily and seasonal changes of light are unknown. However the rhythm in morphological plasticity of the lamina interneurons is correlated with the daily pattern of locomotor activity. Moreover, locomotor stimulation affects morphology of the lamina interneurons. This project will examine interactions between the visual system, the circadian system and locomotor activity using D. melanogaster as a model organism. These interactions are also important in humans, especially during ageing when synchronisation between sensory systems, the circadian system and behaviour is disrupted and may lead to insomnia, mental dysfunction and even cancer. Using short- and long-day conditions to mimic seasonal changes of photoperiod, we will study the behavioural effects of modifying the synaptic contact between the eye photoreceptors and the first order interneurons by expressing a mutant form of the active zone synaptic protein Bruchpilot in the retinal photoreceptors. We will also alter the activity of interneurons and glial cells in the lamina using misexpression of membrane channel proteins. Expression of clock proteins will be studied by brain ICC in addition to behaviour. We will also study the role of clock neuron expressed PDF and ITP on circadian rhythms in the visual system by using mutants and RNAi. Our results will be further tested using RNAi on Nasonia (with Groningen), Bactrocerca (with Oxitec).

Results and milestones
1) Month 8 Project plan & personal development plan for individual training requirements2) Month 12 Report of detailed research plans and reciprocal placement plans between JU & ULEIC2) Month 26 Publications planned
4) Month 36 Manuscripts submitted

Synergies, Risks & Exploitation

Neuroanatomical project enhanced by generation of novel molecular constructs at University of Leicester and sophisticated behavioural analyses by Actual. Risks, minimal. Light manipulations during insect rearing may have important effects on behaviour so our SMEs will apply our results to their insect rearing schedules to enhance both productivity and behaviour.

See more Work Packages in Research Area B