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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Larval Ethanol Exposure Alters Adult Circadian Free-Running Locomotor Activity Rhythm in Drosophila melanogaster

Alcohol consumption causes disruptions in a variety of daily rhythms, including the sleep-wake cycle. Few studies have explored the effect of alcohol exposure only during developmental stages preceding maturation of the adult circadian clock, and none have examined the effects of alcohol on clock function in Drosophila.

This study investigates developmental and behavioral correlates between larval ethanol exposure and the adult circadian clock in
Drosophila melanogaster, a well-established model for studying circadian rhythms and effects of ethanol exposure.

We reared
Drosophila larvae on 0%, 10%, or 20% ethanol-supplemented food and assessed effects upon eclosion and the free-running period of the circadian rhythm of locomotor activity.

We observed a dose-dependent effect of ethanol on period, with higher doses resulting in shorter periods. We also identified the third larval instar stage as a critical time for the developmental effects of 10% ethanol on circadian period.

These results demonstrate that developmental ethanol exposure causes sustainable shortening of the adult free-running period in
Drosophila melanogaster, even after adult exposure to ethanol is terminated, and suggests that the third instar is a sensitive time for this effect.

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