UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Reppert Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Animal Migration; Animals; Arthropod Antennae; Butterflies; Circadian Clocks; Period Circadian Proteins; *Sunlight


Neuroscience and Neurobiology


To navigate during their long-distance migration, monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) use a time-compensated sun compass. The sun compass timing elements reside in light-entrained circadian clocks in the antennae. Here we show that either antenna is sufficient for proper time compensation. However, migrants with either antenna painted black (to block light entrainment) and the other painted clear (to permit light entrainment) display disoriented group flight. Remarkably, when the black-painted antenna is removed, re-flown migrants with a single, clear-painted antenna exhibit proper orientation behaviour. Molecular correlates of clock function reveal that period and timeless expression is highly rhythmic in brains and clear-painted antennae, while rhythmic clock gene expression is disrupted in black-painted antennae. Our work shows that clock outputs from each antenna are processed and integrated together in the monarch time-compensated sun compass circuit. This dual timing system is a novel example of the regulation of a brain-driven behaviour by paired organs.

Rights and Permissions

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

DOI of Published Version



Nat Commun. 2012 Jul 17;3:958. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1965. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature communications

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID