Genes Behind ‘Early Birds’ and ‘Night Owls’
A TEAM OF GENETICISTS from the University of Leicester conducted a study that seems to have pinpointed the DNA difference between morning people and night owls. The research involved analysing nearly 80 different genes relating to circadian rhythms in fruit flies, ideal test subjects due to their genetic similarity to humans.
The study found that the fruit flies fell into two distinct groups genetically: so-called ‘early birds’ or ‘larks’, which are flies that emerge from their pupal case in the morning, and socalled ‘owls’, which are flies that emerge from their pupal case in the evening. The timing of the emergence is regulated by the
fly’s circadian rhythm. One of the noteworthy findings of the research was that the genetic difference between the larks and the owls was unrelated to the ‘clock genes’ which are typically thought to be responsible for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. Two large swaths of genetic code in both fly groups are now thought to be responsible for the difference between larks and owls in flies, and, in turn, morning people and night owls in humans. The researchers have published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Neurology, and will now investigate where these genes are involved in similar processes in humans.