Dr. Tobias Kaiser

Biological Clocks

Most organisms use biological clocks to anticipate the highly regular changes in their environment brought about by seasons, night and day, moon phases and tides. While to date we have a good understanding of circadian clocks, the molecular clockworks of circannual, circalunar and circatidal clocks are still enigmatic.

We use an evolutionary approach to try and identify the molecular basis of circalunar clocks. At the same time we study how evolution shapes biological clocks and produces timing adaptations for specific locations or habitats.

Our model species Clunio marinus (Diptera: Chironomidae) inhabits the intertidal zone of the European Atlantic Coast. It has synchronised its life cycle with the tides by means of circalunar and circadian clocks. As the timing of the tides differs tremendously along the coastline, Clunio marinus populations from different places are genetically adapted to the local pattern of the tides in various aspects of their circadian and circalunar clocks. We exploit these timing adaptations for comparative genomic and molecular analysis in order to identify the underlying genes and thereby get access to the molecular basis of circalunar clocks.

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Dr. Tobias Kaiser

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön

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Selected Publications

  • Kaiser TS, et al. (2016) The genomic basis of circadian and circalunar timing adaptations in a midge. Nature advance online publication. doi:10.1038/nature20151.
  • Kaiser TS, Heckel DG (2012) Genetic Architecture of Local Adaptation in Lunar and Diurnal Emergence Times of the Marine Midge Clunio marinus (Chironomidae, Diptera). PLOS ONE 7(2):e32092.
  • Kaiser TS, Neumann D, Heckel DG (2011) Timing the tides: Genetic control of diurnal and lunar emergence times is correlated in the marine midge Clunio marinus. BMC Genetics 12:49.
  • Kaiser TS, Neumann D, Heckel DG, Berendonk TU (2010) Strong genetic differentiation and postglacial origin of populations in the marine midge Clunio marinus (Chironomidae, Diptera). Molecular Ecology 19(14):2845–2857.