The Scorpion An ideal animal model to study long-term microgravity effects on circadian rhythms

Riewe, Pascal C.; Horn, Eberhard R.
January 2000
AIP Conference Proceedings;2000, Vol. 504 Issue 1, p383
Academic Journal
The temporal pattern of light and darkness is basic for the coordination of circadian rhythms and establishment of homoeostasis. The 24th frequency of zeitgebers is probably a function of the Earth’s rotation. The only way to eliminate its influence on organisms is to study their behavior in space because the reduced day length during orbiting the Earth might disrupt synchronizing mechanisms based on the 24th rhythm. The stability of microgravity induced disturbances of synchronization as well as the extent of adaptation of different physiological processes to this novel environment can only be studied during long-term exposures to microgravity, i.e., on the International Space Station. Biological studies within the long-term domain on ISS demand the use of experimental models which can be exposed to automatic handling of measurements and which need less or no nutritional care. Scorpions offer these features. We describe a fully automatic recording device for the simultaneous collection of data regarding the sensorimotor system and homoeostatic mechanisms. In particular, we record sensitivity changes of the eyes, motor activity and heart beat and/or respiratory activity. The advantage of the scorpion model is supported by the fact that data can be recorded preflight, inflight and postflight from the same animal. With this animal model, basic insights will be obtained about the de-coupling of circadian rhythms of multiple oscillators and their adaptation to the entraining zeitgeber periodicity during exposure to microgravity for at least three biological parameters recorded simultaneously. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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