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To be or not to be rhythmic? A review of studies on organisms inhabiting constant environments

Abhilash, Lakshman, Shindey, Radhika, Sharma, Vijay Kumar
Biological rhythm research 2017 v.48 no.5 pp. 677-691
circadian rhythm, habitats, surveys
Circadian clocks are endogenous time keeping mechanisms that drive near 24-h behavioural, physiological and metabolic rhythms in organisms. It is thought that organisms possess circadian clocks to facilitate coordination of essential biological events to the external day and night (extrinsic advantage) so as to enhance Darwinian fitness. However, on Earth, there are a number of habitats that are not subject to such robust daily cycling of geo-physical factors. Do organisms living under such conditions exhibit rhythmic behaviours that are driven by endogenous circadian clocks? We attempt to critically survey studies of rhythms (or the lack of them) in organisms living in a range of constant environments. Many such organisms do show rhythms in behaviour and/or physiological variables. We suggest that such presence of rhythms may be indicative of an underlying clock that facilitates, (a) internal synchrony among rhythms, and (b) temporal partitioning of incompatible cellular processes (intrinsic advantage). We then highlight reasons that limit our interpretations about the presence (or absence) of clocks in such organisms living under constant conditions, and suggest possible methods to conclusively test whether or not rhythms in these organisms are driven by endogenous circadian clocks with the hope that it may enhance our understanding of circadian clocks in organisms under constant environments.