Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 129-145

First online:

A Plastic Clock: How Circadian Rhythms Respond to Environmental Cues in Drosophila

  • Raphaelle DubruilleAffiliated withDepartment of Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • , Patrick EmeryAffiliated withDepartment of Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Circadian clocks synchronize the physiology and behavior of most animals with the day to night cycle. A fundamental property of the molecular pacemakers generating circadian rhythms is their self-sustained nature: they keep oscillating even under constant conditions, with a period close to, but not exactly, 24 h. However, circadian pacemakers have to be sensitive to environmental cues to be beneficial. They need to be reset every day to keep a proper phase relationship with the day to night cycle, and they have to be able to adjust to seasonal changes in day length and temperature. Here, we review our current knowledge of the molecular and neural mechanisms contributing to the plasticity of Drosophila circadian rhythms, which are proving to be remarkably sophisticated and complex.


Circadian rhythms Behavior Neural network Circadian entrainment Seasonal adaptation Circadian photoresponses Circadian thermoresponses Molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms