Moonlight detection by drosophila's endogenous clock depends on multiple photopigments in the compound eyes

Matthias Schlichting, Rudi Grebler, Nicolai Peschel, Taishi Yoshii, Charlotte Helfrich-Förster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)


Many organisms change their activity on moonlit nights. Even the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster responds to moonlight with a shift of activity into the night, at least under laboratory conditions. The compound eyes have been shown to be essential for the perception of moonlight, but it is unknown which of the 5 rhodopsins in the eyes are responsible for the observed moonlight effects. Here, we show that the outer (R1-R6) and inner (R7 and R8) photoreceptor cells in a fly's ommatidium interact in a complex manner to provoke the moonlight effects on locomotor activity. The shift of the evening activity peak into the night depends on several rhodopsins in the inner and outer photoreceptor cells. The increase in relative nocturnal activity in response to moonlight is mainly mediated by the rhodopsin 6-expressing inner photoreceptor cell R8 together with the rhodopsin 1-expressing outer receptor cells (R1-R6), whereas just rhodopsin 1 of R1 to R6 seems necessary for increasing nocturnal activity in response to increasing daylight intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of biological rhythms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014



  • circadian clock
  • entrainment
  • masking
  • rhodopsins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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