New Study Elucidates Genetic Differences Between Morning Fruit Flies (“Larks”) and Evening Fruit Flies (‘Owls”); Likely Clues to Human Differences Also

A new study by geneticists from the University of Leicester has for the first time identified the genetic clues behind what makes you a ‘lark’ or an ‘owl’. Based on analysis of a fruit fly, the scientists have discovered nearly 80 genes associated with “morningness” and “eveningness.” Researcher Dr. Eran Tauber, one of the three authors of the study, published online on May 8, 2015 in an open-access article in Frontiers in Neurology, said: “Most people find that their performance is at peak at specific times of day. A great variation in this diurnal preference is found, from early risers ‘larks’ to late night ‘owls.’ The impact of this preference (‘chronotype’) on health and behaviour is well documented, but the molecular basis is largely unknown. The article is titled “Gene Expression Associated with Early and Late Chronotypes in Drosophila melanogaster.” “In this new study, we have used fruit flies, whose gene clocks are very similar to human, to get a first insight into the molecular basis of ‘morningness/eveningness’ preference. Because this genetic system is so similar between insects and human, there is a good chance that some of the genes that we have identified in flies, would be also important for diurnal preference in humans. Most of these genes are present in the mammalian genome and would therefore be useful starting points for research in human. For example, a relatively large number of genes were associated with a molecular signalling pathway called MAPK which is also present in human and is implicated in the development of many cancers.” Dr. Tauber, Lecturer in Molecular Evolution at the University of Leicester, worked with Dr. Ezio Rosato and Professor Bambos Kyriacou in the Department of Genetics. Their work was funded by the BBSRC. Dr.
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