Journal article

Circadian rhythms in insect disease vectors

Organisms from bacteria to humans have evolved under predictable daily environmental cycles owing to the Earth's rotation. This strong selection pressure has generated endogenous circadian clocks that regulate many aspects of behaviour, physiology and metabolism, anticipating and synchronising internal time-keeping to changes in the cyclical environment. In haematophagous insect vectors the circadian clock coordinates feeding activity, which is important for the dynamics of pathogen transmission. We have recently witnessed a substantial advance in molecular studies of circadian clocks in insect vector species that has consolidated behavioural data collected over many years, which provided insights into the regulation of the clock in the wild. Next generation sequencing technologies will facilitate the study of vector genomes/transcriptomes both among and within species and illuminate some of the species-specific patterns of adaptive circadian phenotypes that are observed in the field and in the laboratory. In this review we will explore these recent findings and attempt to identify potential areas for further investigation.


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