Biological clocks of beetles: reactions of free-running circadian rhythms to spaceflight conditions (BEETLE 2)
  1. 1997 • Foton 11
Life Sciences:
  • Animal Physiology
Patrik Sundblad
W. Rietveld (1), A.M. Alpatov (2)
Leids Instituut Onderzoek Natuurkunde, Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen
LION Onderwijs
Niels Bohrweg 2 (kamer 302)
2333CA Leiden
Institute of Biomedical Problems
Khoroshevskoye shosse 78
123007 Moscow
The objective of the BEETLE 2 experiment is to study the effect of weightlessness on circadian rhythms, by using as a specimen t he sand desert beetle Trigonoscelis gigas Reitt (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae), which is a good biological model system for such a study. Its endogenous rhythmicity is clear and it is well suitable for long-duration monitoring in a small closed volume without supply of food or water. The aim is to build up on the results already obtained during the BION-10 mission, and to make-up for the lack of results due to hardware failure on the Foton-10 mission.

The activity of four selected beetles with two equal daily activity peaks was monitored in continuous darkness before, during and after flight (from L- 10 days until R+14 days). Although there was a ground reference experiment included, the internal control was more essential: the beetles were successively exposed to 1g, 0g, and 1g. In the absence of a 1g on-board centrifuge, the experiment did not discriminate between weightlessness and other spaceflight factors like launch effects and landing shocks .

The four beetles were individually housed in four turning wheels. In the four turning wheels the locomotor activity of beetles was translated into electrical signals, which were continually recorded by two ACR data loggers (one data point per 10 min).
The behaviour of the circadian system in altered gravity turned out to be more complex than expected. There were distinct changes of period and phase (tonic effects and phasic effects). Moreover, the manifestation of these effects seemed to depend on the initial state of the circadian oscillators, the degree of their coupling. In different individual beetles, the effects of altered gravity varied.
A.M. Alpatov, M.G. Tairbekov, I.A. Ushakov, (1991), "Gravitational biology experiments aboard the biosatellites Cosmos #1887 and #2044", Physiologist, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 78-79.
A.M. Alpatov, (1992), "Circadian rhythms in a long-term duration space flight", Adv. Space Res., Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 249-252.
A.M. Alpatov, W.J. Rietveld, L.B. Oryntaeva, A.A. Putilov, (1994), "Properties of the two-peak free running circadian rhythm of locomotor activity of the sand desert beetle Trigonoscelis gigas Reitt", Biological Rhythm Research, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 153-167.
A.M. Alpatov, W.J. Rietveld, L.B. Oryntaeva, (1994), "Impact of microgravity and hypergravity on free-running circadian rhythm of the desert beetle Trigonoscelis gigas Reitt", Biological Rhythm Research, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 168-177.
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BEETLE 2 Preliminary Report
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