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.